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.
World Bank spokesman Callisto Madavo told the conference that the Royal
Government must create a proper legal framework for investment.
"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.
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."
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
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.
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
"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
"This time, 11 Cambodian organizations headed by Keat
Chhon, Senior Minister for Rehabilitation and Development, attended the
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
"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
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
"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
An issue raised by Indonesia and others was Cambodia's "absorption
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.