Foreign Donors To Look at Cambodia’s Reform Progress

Donors will review the government’s progress on various ref­orms next week, as the last don­ors meeting before the World Bank-hosted Consultative Group meeting in Paris in May.

Nady Tan, secretary-general of the Council of Ministers, said Tues­day at an inter-ministerial preparation meeting that the government and donors will meet April 5 and 6 to discuss reforms ranging from military demobilization and forestry to macro-economics.

It will be the third meeting since the Tokyo CG meeting in February 1999, where donors pledged $470 million of assistance for the country’s development. In Tokyo, Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed to allow donor nations to check the progress of reforms every three months. But that has slipped to about every four or five months.

The next CG meeting is scheduled on May 24-26 in Paris, where the government plans to request $536 million.

Jean-Michel Severio, vice president of the World Bank, visited Cambodia last month as part of the preparation for the Paris meeting. Bonaventure Mbida-Essama, the bank’s acting chief in Phnom Penh, said last week that good governance and anti-corruption will be major items in Paris.

According to the World Bank’s local office, the final agenda for the next week’s meeting has not been set by the government. On the donor side, working groups are still evaluating the government’s progress on each of the major reforms, an official said.

Donors said Tuesday night that next week’s meeting will be critical because it would be a preview of the Paris CG meeting, although the meeting itself is part of a continuous process.

“It would be very important because it is a pre-CG meeting,” said Urooj Malik, country representative of the Asian Develop­ment Bank. “ADB would like to share experiences with other donors on positive progress and weakness of the reform efforts.”

British Ambassador George Edger said donors will look into developments next week on logging, anti-corruption, macro-economics, education and health issues. But he would not name areas donors or the British government would review, noting donors’ sub-committees are now reviewing the specific issues.

In the previous quarterly meeting in October, donors praised the government for fiscal im­p­rovement but criticized its efforts on reducing the military. Since then, the government has an­nounced a pilot military demobilization project.



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