Australian ambassador to Cambodia Pablo Kang said his government will provide training to Cambodian law enforcement officers and immigration officials on strengthening border protections when the country reopens.
Kang made the remarks during a discussion with Minister of Interior Sar Kheng at the ministry on October 27.
“Since [Cambodia] is preparing to reopen its borders, Australia has organised a training programme to strengthen the capacities of law enforcement officers – especially immigration officials – to increase the efficiency of managing border checkpoint gates,” Kang said.
At the meeting, Sar Kheng expressed his appreciation for the level of cooperation between the two countries and requested that Australia provide more assistance in the area of combating drug trafficking, which has continued to steadily grow as a problem despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
The minister also thanked the Australian government for its continued support to Cambodia in the fight against Covid-19 and other aid that was donated for various sectors in the Kingdom in addition to law enforcement.
The two sides then discussed several other issues, including aid distributed through the Australian Assistance Framework for Social Accountability.
Kang said that in the three years from 2021 onwards, the Australian government will provide approximately A$15 million (US$11.26 million) for the implementation of the Social Accountability Framework project through the World Bank.
Sar Kheng said he believed that this provision of aid made an important contribution to the successful implementation of the 10-year national programme of decentralisation and de-concentration reforms.
He said the Cambodian government remained highly committed to these reforms as evidenced by its 10-year national plan from 2021 to 2030.
“The Royal Government previously transferred the management of the health sector to the sub-national administrations and the delegation of those functions contributed to the efficient management of the Covid-19 pandemic in Cambodia,” he said.
Separately, the embassy and the Ministry of Civil Service have begun training a second cohort of over 150 senior officials in the Leadership and Innovation Programme to enhance capacity to carry out public service reforms.
The embassy said the 150-plus participants were all senior level officials ranging from director-general to secretary of state from various ministries.
Australia’s deputy ambassador to Cambodia Andreas Zurbrugg, civil service minister Prum Sokha, the EU delegation’s head of cooperation Bryan Fornari and the World Bank’s country manager Maryam Salim all attended the launch ceremony for the programme on October 26.
“The Leadership and Innovation Programme aims to enhance the capacity of senior government officials and form strong bonds between the leaders responsible for carrying out major public sector reforms,” the embassy said in a press release.
Zurbrugg said leadership extends beyond just managing and making decisions and that it also involves establishing a culture, offering the right incentives, encouraging calculated risks and promoting accountability.
“Once empowered – and after empowering others – leaders can innovate and set goals for major public sector reforms,” he said.
The press statement said the programme is a key activity under the Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Public Financial Management and Service Delivery. Australia and the EU donated about $1.5 million and $2.3 million respectively to the World Bank-administered fund, which has been working closely with the Royal School of Administration to provide training courses through the programme.