Germans Promise New Aid

The government Wednesday signed a cooperation agreement with Germany that it says will generate about $34.2 million in aid to Cambodia in the next year.

The grant capped off a two-day meeting between Cambodian Finance Minister Keat Chhon and German Minister for Ec­onomic Cooperation and Devel­opment Lothar Zimmer. They signed the agreement Wed­nes­day at the Council Devel­opment Center, a CDC official said.

It is a major expansion of German aid to Cambodia, which totaled $55.7 million from 1992 to 2001.

In a statement, Zimmer praised Cambodia’s progress in development and spoke highly of relations between Germany and Cambodia.

The agreement focuses on four major areas: Democracy, civil society and public administration; health, family planning and HIV/AIDS; economic reform and development of the market system; and rural development in the lowlands of the Tonle Sap and Mekong basin, particularly in Kampot and Kompong Thom provinces, said Rith Vuthy, de­partment chief in charge of Euro­pean donations.

A wide variety of smaller projects are involved in these goals. One combines rural road construction with food-for-work programs. Another provides Kampot with inexpensive electricity from Vietnam.

Keat Chhon said both sides have agreed to terms of cooperation that include grant control and anti-corruption provisions. He promised to practice good governance and transparency.

Zimmer told the news conference that good governance and transparency were not conditions of the agreement because the Cambodian government understood that “the grant comes from German taxpayers” and would use the money properly.

And while he said “corruption is very complex,” he was confident it would be prevented by two of the grant’s measures: Tech­nical assistance money that will help to administer the grant, and project oversight and accountability through the German national bank.

Separate from the grant, German Ambassador Helmut Ohlraun said at the conference that Germany has pledged to donate computers to computerize voting for the next national elections in 2003.


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