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Proposed Iran loan under fire

Proposed Iran loan under fire

Opposition lawmakers-elect yesterday lambasted reports that Cambodia has asked Iran for a $54.45 million loan.

Following an official visit to Tehran last week by a delegation from the National Assembly led by First Vice Chairman Nguon Nhel, Cambodia’s official news agency, Agence Kampuchea Press, reported that Iran is currently pushing for a final decision on the loan.

The loan would be used on six projects focusing on agriculture and water resources.

“All the loans that our government receives … [are used] to improve the social infrastructure and agricultural development as well as vocational training,” senior Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap said yesterday.

But opposition lawmaker-elect Son Chhay described the loan as a waste of money.

“To borrow money from Iran is just ridiculous. It seems to me that the CPP doesn’t know what to do but waste a lot of money on trips just to get into more debt. It could be a disaster.”

Nhel was unavailable for comment.

Chhay added that Iran’s relationship with Cambodia is based on “an authoritarian government [looking for another] to make friends with”.

Fellow CNRP lawmaker-elect Yim Sovann said that while any country should be able to provide Cambodia with loans, they should consider the “illegitimacy of the government”.

Kol Preap of Transparency International Cambodia also expressed concerns. “Every time Cambodian delegations visit other countries, they like to show of[f] their success …by declaring how much money the countries they have visited pledge to give or to lend to Cambodia. As a Cambodian citizen, I personally feel ashamed,” he said by email.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KHOUTH SOPHAK CHAKRYA

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