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Pledges focus on long-term recovery plan

Pledges focus on long-term recovery plan

T he international community's pledge of $777 million to get Cambodia's economy

up and running will ensure the country's long-term development and is not a

stop-gap, "Band Aid" funding, delegates at the second International Committee on

the Reconstruction of Cambodia (ICORC), were told.

A World Bank statement

to the conference, held in Tokyo, said the pledges heralded a shift in emphasis

in Cambodia's recovery from quick emergency measures to more comprehensive, long

term reconstruction programs.

The statement, to delegates from 32

countries and 21 organizations, added that long-term projects, designed to

benefit the whole country, would also receive funds from the pledges.

But

World Bank spokesman Callisto Madavo told the conference that the Royal

Government must create a proper legal framework for investment.

He said:

"The private sector must be given a major role in the recovery and development

process, starting now.

"A constraint on private sector activity is the

deficiency of the legal environment for business activity. The objective should

be to establish laws defining property rights, regulating the enforcement of

contracts and assuring effective competition."

The conference also marked

the emergence of the Royal Government of Cambodia as the central player in Khmer

politics with Cambodia's 26 member delegation led by first Prime Minister Prince

Norodom Rannaridh and second Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In his opening

statement to the conference, the Prince read a message from his father, HRH King

Sihanouk, who did not attend.

The King's letter said factors including

Khmer Rouge military activity and millions of mines hidden throughout the

country, were standing in the way of Cambodia's development but he believed the

international conference would benefit the country.

Despite the King's

absence, the conference was a "huge success", said Information Minister, Ieng

Mouly, who is also the head of the Cambodian Mine Action Center.

"The

best result of the meeting was a vote of confidence by the international

community for the policies and programs of the Royal Government of Cambodia. I

think it was an extraordinarily successful meeting for Cambodia."

The

presence of the French Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State, Warren

Christopher, indicated the importance of the meeting, opened by Japan's Foreign

Minister.

A statement from the UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-

Ghali was also read.

The two-day conference was held at the International

Convention Center of Tokyo's New Takanawa Prince Hotel.

Onesta Carpene,

director of the Australian Relief Committee, said it was obvious at the

conference that the new government was taking its role as the country's major

planner seriously.

"At the first meeting in Paris, Untac and UNDP spoke

for Cambodia. At this conference, the Royal Government has taken center stage

with the report for this conference prepared by the National Committee for the

Rehabilitation and Development of Cambodia (NCRDC).

"UNDP, the World

Bank, IMF ADB and Untac took the lead in preparing the report for the first

ICORC conference.

"This time, 11 Cambodian organizations headed by Keat

Chhon, Senior Minister for Rehabilitation and Development, attended the

conference."

Carpene added that pledges had been received from all over

the world including Korea, Japan, America, Australia and France and delegates

went into overtime spending an extra hour taking pledges.

"It was after 7

pm, but no one moved," she said. "Pledges, knowing when and how much, are a

precondition for planning," said Carpene.

Australian Minister for

Development Cooperation and Pacific Island Affairs, Gordon Bilney, said: "The

Royal Government has only been functioning for a few months, but has already

made substantial inroads into the enormous problems facing

Cambodia.

"This is particularly true in the economic and financial areas

where skill and fearless leadership have reversed serious economic problems and

created a positive budgetary situation and the beginning of a fiscal and

monetary system which will enable successful private and public

investment."

Many of the participants said the need for self-help was

important in Cambodia's reconstruction.

The Korean delegation said the

conference highlighted the need for countries to work together despite differing

political ideologies.

"With the end of the Cold War, reconciliation and

cooperation seem to be the order of the day. Unfortunately, subsequent regional

and religious conflicts have emerged as counter-currents to these trends.

"Yet the Cambodian case stands out as a comforting reminder of the new

possibilities before us." Korea offered $150,000 in material assistance for this

year.

An issue raised by Indonesia and others was Cambodia's "absorption

capacity."

The Indonesian delegation was concerned the lack of trained

and skilled people in Cambodia limited the country's capacity to correctly

"absorb" development assistance.

Another conference first was the

attendance of Khmer NGOs.

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