Donors Warm as CMAC Scales Back Budget

Cambodian Mine Action Cen­ter officials have scaled back a proposed $15 million annual budget that drew fire from donors, who at a meeting last month called that amount unrealistically high.

At a meeting Friday between CMAC officials and donors, CMAC Chairman Ieng Mouly revealed an $11 million budget plan and said that already $2.2 million has been tentatively pledged to the agency.

The $2.2 million, according to CMAC Director General Khem Sophoan, will be almost enough to finance the agency during the first quarter of next year.

Following the suspension of much of CMAC’s donor funding earlier this year after widespread financial mismanagement was discovered, the demining agency has been struggling with a money crunch.

And despite an almost $480,000 balance at the end of this year, along with the limited resumption of donor aid, CMAC will again face a shortfall during next year’s first quarter without an additional $258,000, Khem Sophoan said.

Donors have demanded that an aggressive reform plan be put in place before they fully resume funding for CMAC, which is supported primarily by international money.

On Friday, CMAC officials presented donors with a more detailed version of the reform plan that was begun in August.

Donor reaction to this plan, which addresses four main points in CMAC’s operations, was generally better than it was a month ago when CMAC officials proposed their $15 million budget without a clear picture of its planed reforms.

“I’m definitely satisfied with the direction CMAC is taking,” said Canadian Ambassador Normand Mailhot, whose country was one of three to bail the agency out of it’s latest financial crisis.

However, while donor reception to CMAC has warmed, the agency—Ieng Mouly in particular—has come under fire from National Assembly members.

The members attacked Ieng Mou­ly’s performance during a humiliating Assembly session Thurs­day.

Ieng Mouly has maintained he is not responsible for the day-to-day operations of CMAC and on Fri­day dismissed the parliamentarians’ criticism as “politics.”

But the government will become increasingly influential over CMAC as donors look for more of a financial commitment to the agency from Cambodian officials. CMAC is asking the government for $3 million next year—an amount that Ieng Mouly said may be too high.

This year, the government only contributed a fraction of the money it had budgeted for CMAC—angering many donors who felt they were left to support the agency, despite its demands for increased Cambodian participation in the agency.



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