The Asian Development Bank has committed more than $1 billion in new loans to Cambodia over the next three years to help the country invest in infrastructure, education and other priorities, government officials announced on Wednesday.
Finance Minister Aun Porn Moniroth announced the $1.09 billion loan package, to last Cambodia through 2019, at an event marking the bank’s 50th anniversary in Phnom Penh. It comes on top of the $2.65 billion the bank has lent Cambodia since the early 1990s.
The minister said the specific projects the new money will fund had yet to be decided. “When the projects and programs are prepared, we will sign deals for the actual projects and programs each year. So we need to work more comprehensively, and the actual amount of each loan will depend on each project and program.”
“We will continue to focus on the important sectors that support the economy, especially infrastructure, in order to support growth, because it is the foundation for industry, agriculture, education and many other sectors,” he added.
Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron stressed the need to invest much of the new money in schools.
“The ADB funding will focus on high school education,” he said, “to respond to the demand for the skills that our youth need. If we export garments, primary school knowledge is enough to be a garment worker. But if we want to export electronic products, workers need at least a quality secondary education.”
Sun Chanthol, the transportation minister, spoke of putting some of the money to work to both maintain and improve the country’s roads.
Officials at the meeting did not say whether any of the money would be used to finish the massive railway rehabilitation project that ran through the $143 million originally budgeted for the work, most of it courtesy of the bank, long before it was finished. After the bank said last year that no more money was forthcoming, the government said it would set aside some $30 million to finish the work.