CMAC to Benefit from Japanese Donation

Japan decided last week to contribute $900,000 to the UNDP trust fund from which the Cam­bo­dian Mine Action Center draws most of its money, a move CMAC officials say will pull the country’s largest demining agency out of financial crisis.

A favorable audit of CMAC’s use of donor nation funds prompted Japan to agree to the funding, according to Toshihiko Hori­uchi, the embassy’s first secretary.

“It takes a little bit of time for the money to arrive, but it has been officially approved,” Toshi­hiko Horiuchi said.

Japan’s donation will bring the total of foreign money pledged to CMAC in recent weeks to $1.5 million—the amount CMAC officials said the agency needed to continue operating at full capacity until the end of the year.

Britain and Australia had earlier agreed to contribute $300,000 each to the agency.

Faced with a halt in donor nation funding, CMAC would be forced to at least partially shut down at the end of this month.

In an effort to cut costs, CMAC Direc­tor General Khem Sophoan has proposed either temporarily reducing CMAC staff salaries or permanently cutting 30 percent of the agency’s staff.

But Khem Sophoan was also pressured by Prime Minister Hun Sen and former CMAC Director-General Sam Sotha—now the prime minister’s adviser on land mine issues—to cut agency staff by 90 percent without the resumption of donor funding. Such a cut would effectively close the agency and cease a significant portion of demining in Cambodia.

Khem Sophoan said Sunday those three options are still being considered, but now only as emergency measures in case of future cash shortfalls rather than financial necessities.

CMAC’s governing council will meet this week to decide which of the three options it will adopt as a fall-back plan for the agency, Khem Sophoan said. He also said discussions with other donor countries, including the US and Canada, have been favorable and may produce money next year.

Until then, Khem Sophoan said his staff is continuing to implement the reforms requests by donors in August.

 

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