Gov’t Draft Report Downplays Failed Goals

A report drafted by the government for next month’s meeting of Cambodia’s international donors skirts over a number of missed bench­marks and makes no reference to urgent recommendations called for by donors in past years.

The draft downplays a number of failed goals set forth in the last Consultative Group meeting in 2002, especially in judicial reform, anti-corruption and in the forestry sector, and blames the 2003 to 2004 post-election deadlock for stalling proposed laws.                                    The Council for Development of Cambodia is drafting the document, titled “Implementing the Rec­tangular Strategy and the De­vel­opment Assistance Needs,” to present to donors at the Con­sult­ative Group meeting scheduled for December, when the government is expected to request at least the roughly $635 million in aid has received in previous years.

Obtained by The Cambodia Daily, the draft report is dated Oc­tober and remains under revision. But the draft document, through what it has omitted, high­lights some of the government’s shortcomings in fulfilling benchmarks set out during the 2002 CG meeting, and again trumpeted at a mid-term CG meet­ing in January 2003, such as the adoption of an anti-corruption law and the elimination of illegal logging.

Not mentioned in the report to donors is the government’s failure to prosecute cases of corruption; the report instead cites “significant progress in combating cor­ruption by addressing its root causes” through a crackdown on illegal logging and better management of state funds.

According to the report, legislation linked to judicial reform, in­cluding a law governing judges and an anti-graft law, was held up because of the political deadlock.

In 2003, donors lamented the slow pace of judicial reform, saying they were “very concerned with the lack of progress.”

The draft also lauds progress in the forestry sector, though donors have noted recurring prob­lems in earlier-pledged re­forms, such as the secretive awarding of land concessions.

None of the recommendations put forth at the mid-term CG meeting are referenced in the draft report.

Representatives of the Asian De­velopment Bank, International Monetary Fund and several do­nor countries declined to comment on the report this week, saying they had not seen it.

Two top officials at the CDC, Secretary-General Sok Chenda and his deputy, Ching Yandara, also declined to comment.

Donors will report on the government’s progress toward the 2002 benchmarks before an­nouncing pledges of aid at the De­cember meeting.


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