City Seeks Private Help Building Infrastructure

Phnom Penh First Deputy Governor Than Sina met with officials from the World Bank Mon­day to discuss ways businesses could play a larger role in constructing Phnom Penh’s roads and developing the city’s water, electrical and waste systems.

Than Sina said the private sector has been essential to the development of Malaysia and Thailand, but said the municipal government’s lack of financial autonomy could limit private companies’ presence here.

The slow decentralization pro­cess has kept government money with the national government, he said, and that has made it difficult for the city to make loan payments. “Even Ho Chi Minh City, in a communist country,” has some fiscal autonomy, he said.

Nevertheless, the government is working toward decentralization, he said. Prime Minister Hun Sen “is ready to lead,” he said. “But people don’t always give him good advice.”

One World Bank official said pri­vate companies would provide services in a more transparent, accountable and competitive manner than government agencies. “The government simply cannot finance infrastructure projects,” he said.

Than Sina concluded the meeting by asking the World Bank delegation for money to fund the construction of new townships outside Phnom Penh and other resettlement programs for squatters.

Meanwhile, today in Siem Reap, the Bank is scheduled to host more than 90 government and civil society representatives from Cambodia, Laos, Viet­nam, In­donesia, East Timor and Mon­golia at a poverty reduction strategy meeting, a Bank statement said Monday.

The two-day workshop will look at economic and social issues “from a gender perspective” and seek ways to reduce dis­par­ities between men and wo­men, such as with the literacy rate.

Officials from the UN Development Program, the Asian Development Bank, Oxfam, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and the Netherlands will also attend the meeting, the statement said.


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