Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - RCG moves to ease fears before Tokyo

RCG moves to ease fears before Tokyo

RCG moves to ease fears before Tokyo

CAMBODIA has cobbled together another meeting of aid donors this Monday July 1 following

recent publicity that the IMF - worried where State logging revenues are going -

has withheld aid payments.

The Government is anxious to iron out donors' concerns over logging before the pivotal

Tokyo aid summit just two weeks away, on which rests Cambodia's $1.6 billion blueprint

for development over the next three years.

The IMF froze its $20m March installment after reports that timber deals of one million

cubic meters had been struck with Thai companies that were, according to one source,

"just too big and too public."

Agriculture Minister Tao Seng Huor's defense that the deals were "in principle

only", and that nevertheless will be subject to various checks and balances,

has done little to sway donors that something is not badly awry in the accountability

of logging income.

Secretary General of the Cambodian Rehabilitation and Development Board, Chhieng

Yanara, who reports directly to Cambodia's "point-man" at Tokyo, Finance

Minister Keat Chhon, confirmed that the "specific focus" of Monday's meeting

will be "forestry management sustainability."

"We will commit ourselves [at the meeting] as to how and what the Government

can do about the sustainable management of natural resources, especially forestry,"

Yanara said.

He said: "We will try to solve as much as possible before the Consultative Group

(CG) meeting, so donors can have full confidence in the government."

Chhon recently returned from a Europe trip lobbying donors there to be generous,

which was apparently well-received, though donors warned that their own external

aid budgets had been pared.

Yanara, when asked whether Cambodia might have its own concerns to air at the CG

meeting, said: "We have included one sentence in our report. [The process] should

be Cambodian driven, not driven by foreigners.

"Second, we think some concerns of donors are rational, and that they want to

ensure the effectiveness of their help to Cambodia.

"Their assistance is provided within the framework of political stability. This

point is rational.

"We, the Government, are doing our best and are committed to ensuring political

stability," he said.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has produced a report "Cambodia: From Recovery to

Sustained Development" for the Tokyo meeting, saying that private sector investment

must be encouraged to lead an "export-oriented growth strategy", and that

rural development will be fostered.

Nowhere in its nine-page, 28-part executive summary are "democracy" or

"human rights" mentioned, confirming the "economics only" limitations

that donors now have to formally work within.

The Bank's report is generally optimistic that the market-strategy line taken by

Cambodia is working, while noting there is still much to achieve.

The Cambodian Government's own report to Tokyo contains - for the first time - a

detailed list of individual projects to be paid for.

The bottom line is that Cambodia needs $1.496 billion for all its development projects

through 1998. The Government will foot $52.5 million; donors have already pledged

$602 million and will be asked to kick in $842 million more. Above that, the IMF

will give another $120 million in balance of payment support.

The list is as follows:

  • Civil Aviation: $39 million.
  • Siem Reap airport ($17.4m); seven domestic airports ($1.5m); air traffic control

    system ($15.9m).

  • Central Agencies: $29 million.

Technical assistance ($5m); Judicial court reconstruction and judicial reform

($6.9m); projects in public finance and investment and aid coordination ($5.9m);

civil servants' school ($1.2m).

  • Culture and Religion: $33 million.

Tonle Bassac theater ($15m); Angkor restoration ($13.5m); Cultural centers ($1.5m).

  • Education: $92 million.

Assuring equitable access ($24.7m); basic education, and higher education improvement

($34m); technical vocation ($8.8m).

  • Environment: $37 million.

Protected areas ($12m); coastal wetlands ($10m); environmental management and

technical assistance, and national action plan ($9m); research institute and pollution

control ($2.2m).

  • Health: $171 million.

Strengthening health program ($54m); women, children program ($28m); hospital

extensions ($19m); health planning ($15.8m); malaria, leprosy, TB, Aids, mental health

projects ($20m); pharmaceutical reform ($7.3m).

  • Industry, Mines and Energy: $188 million.

Kirirom ($26.7m); Tonle Sap dam feasibility ($7.5m); various projects for electricity

rehabilitation and power expansion ($119m); rice mill ($9m).

  • Information: $10 million.

Broadcasting development ($9).

  • Interior: $86 million. Rehabilitation of Phnom Penh water ($83m).
  • Post and Telecommunication: $92 million.

Central switching telephone system ($45m); microwave system ($31m).

  • Public Works: $217 million.

Rebuilding various roads and bridges ($126m); Ports and ferry systems ($35m);

sewage system ($10m).

  • Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: $191 million.

Stung Chinit ($20m); forestry research and inventory ($20m); irrigation extensions

and rehabilitation ($43m); fresh water fish research ($7.7m).

  • Rural Development: $113 million.

Rural roads ($28m); Prasac, funded by EU ($40m); rural water, sanitation, irrigation

($13.5m).

  • Social Action, Women's and Community Affairs: $$16.6 million.

Vocational training ($7.9m).

  • Tourism: $24 million.

Developing sites ($23m).

  • Other areas include: Demining $28m; public administration reform $14m; civil

    service retirement program $40m; and demobilization $70m.

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