Government Gets High Marks From Donors

Donors said Thursday that the government’s overall progress on reforms deserved high marks, the day after the second quarterly meeting to review how aid has been used.

“My colleagues and I were en­couraged by the government’s strong political will and determination to do reforms,” Japanese Ambassador Masaki Saito said.

Saito said significant progress has especially been made in

fi­nan­cial reforms and overhauling the public administration.

But he noted that there has not been any real progress in demobilization.

“According to the schedule, the government should already be implementing a pilot program,” Saito said. “But that’s been delayed.”

Dominique McAdams, the UN Development Program’s resident representative, called the meeting a success. “Of course, there is need for ad­­ditional effort and concrete ac­tion,” she said.

Another Western diplomat said he also was encouraged by re­forms, noting that illegal logging on a broad scale has been halted.

But he said the government needs to be able to monitor the for­estry economy, including the illegal economy. The diplomat also said the government has to establish a broader-based policy of forestry management.

Finance Minister Keat Chhon told donors that Cambodia re­ceiv­ed an estimated $280 million in total donor disbursements as of the end of September, of which $160 million were grants and $120 million were loans from the World Bank and the Asian Devel­opment Bank.

Planned disbursements for 1999 amount to $393 million, which represents 83 percent of the $471 million pledged by donors at a meeting in February.

Figures aren’t complete, however, because some donors have not submitted their updated 1998 and planned 1999-2001 disbursement information, Keat Chhon said.

Total aid disbursements for 1998 were $403.891 million, an increase of 7.6 percent from 1997 disbursements.

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