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Roads, bridges, power and water: where to spend $373m

Roads, bridges, power and water: where to spend $373m

W HEN the Japanese finish an aid project, it's an Occassion. At the opening of Phnom Penh's latest power station, it was celebrity standing room only. The King, the Queen, Prince Ranariddh, Hun Sen and his wife, and more, were all present with Ambassador Imagawa.

Even smaller "grass-roots" aid projects funded by the Japanese are ideal picture opportunities for politicians. Hun Sen and Ranariddh invariably make personal appearances.

It is no wonder the Cambodians think so highly of the Japanese - yen is being poured into this country, from 1991 to 1995 successive annual amounts of $53m, $48m, $77m, $122m and $72m.

It has been spent, or is being spent, as follows:

  • The Japanese Chroy Changwar bridge - $23.2m.
  • National Route 6A (44kms, 26 bridges) - $29.9m.
  • Road construction center, and heavy equipment - $20.2m.
  • Electricity supply - $38.5m.
  • Water supply - $26.6m.
  • Phnom Penh port, and heavy equipment - $32.7m.
  • Maternal and children's hospital, and medical equipment - $25m
  • Telecommunications - $18.5m.
  • Agriculture - $21m.
  • Disaster relief - $53.5m.
  • Food aid - $31.8m.
  • Budget aid - $48m.

More is going into culture, the arts, medicine and eduction. Japan has provided around half of all rice that has been given to Cambodia since 1992.

The "budget aid", worth $48m, is basically a gift to Cambodia so it can buy steel for construction, paper for education and cables for electricity supply.

Imagawa said that there was no corruption in Japanese aid "because we do the work, spend the money and then give [the Cambodians] the key".

"I'm happy that there is no money going into the pockets of politicians," he said.

Till now Japan had only given grant aid. Imagawa said next year Japan will begin advancing money on a credit or loan system.

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