International donors who are still in a position to contribute money to the financially troubled Cambodian Mine Action Center are likely to wait for the government to begin picking up the agency’s fourth-quarter tab before releasing funds.
As CMAC faces the possibility of at least a partial shutdown at the end of October, focus has shifted from donor support to that of the government, which has yet to disburse most of the $1.7 million budgeted for CMAC this year, according to Richard Warren, the donor community’s top adviser to the agency.
CMAC Chairman Ieng Mouly said Monday the government has agreed to release between $50,000 and $100,000 to the UN Development Program Trust fund that supports the agency.
But that amount may not be enough to satisfy donors, who see the government’s contribution as a show of faith in CMAC’s future as Cambodia’s largest demining agency.
“The government pledged a lot more for 1999,” AusAID Director Bill Costello said Monday.
“We would like to see them get closer to that amount,” Costello added.
Australia, one of the agency’s biggest contributors, recently committed about $300,000 to CMAC, according to Costello.
But in an Oct 1 letter to UNDP Resident Representative Dominique McAdams, Australian Ambassador Malcolm Leader also stressed the need for the government to assume more financial responsibility for CMAC.
Other important donors, including the US, have no money currently slated for CMAC.
The demining agency will need $1.5 million to continue operating for the rest of the year. Already, CMAC is suffering logistical difficulties but is continuing to demine effectively, Warren said.
In July, an independent audit of the government’s contribution to CMAC found evidence of widespread mismanagement and misallocation of money, prompting several countries to withhold funding altogether.
Although a recently completed audit on CMAC’s use of donor funds—which has yet to be released publicly—found no evidence of misuse of international money, it did detail dozens of management flaws.