MEANWHILE, the NGO Forum on Cambodia issued a statement that pricked at many issues
that the World Bank - a co-host at Tokyo - had told donors were "off limits"
during the July 11-12 meeting.
The Forum said: "... the right to food, education, a livelihood, to security,
to participate in civil society and have a say in the future must be assured. The
needs and aspirations of people should be the primary consideration in all development."
By contrast, the World Bank has insisted the the Toyko meeting was all to do with
Cambodian macro-economic issues.
NGOs urged donors not to put conditions on aid "which only hurt the poor and
the vulnerable", but said donors should make long-term commitments to the Kingdom.
World Bank and IMF-driven initiatives to sack 70,000 soldiers and civil servants
concerned NGOs, who said: "In the absence of an effective social safety net
these people may simply add to the already high number of Cambodians living in poverty."
The Forum said similar reforms had widened the gap between rich and poor in other
countries, and diminished the Government's capabilities to shape its own priorities.
There was also a basic contradiction between what the Government said it wanted (poverty
alleviation and environmental sus-tainability); what the people needed (food, security,
health, land and education); and what the investment program spelled out (civil reform
and infrastructure development).
"The Public Investment Program (PIP) does not reflect an integrated or consistent
approach to achieving... poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability".
Specifically, the Forum urged that the demobilization process be extended, and those
soldiers involved given a chance to decide what they wanted and needed.
The PIP project should be ranked according to the extent to which they reduced poverty
and promoted environmental sus-tainability, it said.
It said all revenue from logging must be traced, accounted for and put into the Treasury.
"In addition, donors should consider creative possibilities to ensure proper
environmental management, such as establishing a trust fund to buy protected areas
or using forests as 'collateral' for soft loans to ensure they are not exploited
for the period of the loan."