Gov’t, IMF Discuss Poverty-Reduction Goals

Minister of Rural Development Ly Thuch met Wednesday with a top International Monetary Fund official Wednesday to discuss prioritizing the government’s goals for combating poverty—priorities that include minority rights, construction of better roads and rural health care.

These priorities, along with adequate rural water supplies, community development and rural credit programs, make up the basic outline the ministry will present to the donors during the June consultative group meeting.

“I hope strongly that the don­ors will agree with our priorities, and I hope they continue aid for helping the poor in Cambo­dia,” Ly Thuch said.

On Wednesday, Ly Thuch met with Thomas Rumbaugh, deputy division chief of the IMF’s Asian-Pacific Department for the IMF, to discuss priorities for ending rural poverty in preparation for the June donor meeting.

No IMF official was available Wednesday for comment about the meeting or the role the institution would play in defining priorities for the separate government ministries, including the Ministry of Rural Development.

The IMF pledged an estimated $40 million during the last donor meeting, Ly Thuch said.

In 1999, the IMF approved an $81.6 million credit package for Cambodia, the first time the IMF re­sumed loans to Cambodia after a three-year suspension, according to Agence France-Presse.

In March, the IMF praised the government’s reform programs, saying Cambodia has made “significant strides” in implementing government reforms.

But some officials have said in the past that the government fell short of its development goals, which have been outlined in the government’s five-year poverty reduction plan.

The Ministry of Rural Develop­ment’s outline for alleviating rural poverty is significant because it “provides a road­ map for the vision of the Ministry of Develop­ment and what we will focus on in the future,” Ly Thuch said.

Although the Ministry of Rural Development will concentrate its rural road projects in the North­west, the poverty reduction priorities like country-wide access to safe drinking water will benefit all of Cambodia, Ly Thuch said.

“All the donors need to see this key [poverty reduction strategy paper]—we will use it to convince the donors what the government sees as priorities for poverty reduction,” Ly Thuch said.

Ly Thuch is scheduled to meet today with officials from the World Bank to further discuss poverty reduction in Cambodia.


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