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NA approves billion-dollar policy plan

NA approves billion-dollar policy plan

THE National Assembly has approved the government’s draft National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) Update for 2009-13, a US$6.28 billion policy blueprint that sets development priorities for the five-year period.

During Monday’s parliamentary session, Minister of Planning Chhay Than said that the plan, which updates the country’s NSDP for 2006-10, takes into account challenges that have arisen from the uncertain global economic climate.

Tuon Thavrak, the ministry’s director general, told reporters outside the assembly that most of the plan’s budget must be footed by foreign donors. “We need more than US$1 billion from external sources” per year in addition to $200 million of the government’s own money, he said.

The plan was passed with near-unanimous support, but opposition lawmakers said its targets might not be met if issues such as corruption are not addressed.

Yim Sovann, spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party, told the assembly that he supported the policy blueprint, but contended that a lack of resources – worsened by bad governance – had hurt the 2006-10 NSDP.

“We need this strategy plan for our development, but based on the previous five-year plan, we have lacked a lot of resources. The government has not eliminated corruption,” he said.

He added that changes must be made if the new plan is to be implemented successfully.

“If it still has the same position as the previous time, I have very little hope for it being better,” he added.

“But if the government considers the opposition parties’ recommendations, as well as [those] of civil society and the international community to enforce the law properly, the situation could be better.”

Donors will meet with government officials in the capital on Wednesday and Thursday to pledge aid payments for the coming 18-month period. At the last government-donor meeting in December 2008, donors offered $951.5 million in development assistance.

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