Gov’t Responds to Competing Poverty Plans

Despite assurances from the government and the international financial institutions involved, an official from one NGO said two draft papers on poverty reduction in Cambodia, one written with recommendations by the World Bank and the other with assistance from the Asian Develop­ment Bank, may conflict.

Although both drafts are written by the government, the ADB and World Bank offer technical assistance, said Russell Peterson, representative for NGO Forum.

“The international financing institutions—the World Bank, The ADB and the International Monetary Fund—have much opportunity to influence the government through provisional technical assistance and through their position as lender institutions,” Peterson said.

Since 1993, the ADB has offer­ed technical assistance to help the government draft five-year poverty reduction plans.

The World Bank requires debt­or countries who receive loans for poverty reduction to create a poverty reduction strategy paper.

“Competing demands from the ADB and World Bank forced the royal government to do a phased process—to complete three separate reports,” Peterson said. “This has resulted in reducing the quality of participation inside and outside the government.”

World Bank officials said their strategy paper is created by the government; the World Bank only reviews and comments on it.

The government’s five-year poverty reduction plan and its interim poverty reduction strategy are different documents, said Bonaventure Mbida-Essama, chief country representative for the World Bank.

“The poverty reduction strategy paper is a strategy in which the process is as important as the final product,” Mbida-Essama said. “The strategy combines a high level of involvement from all sectors in Cambodia, from NGOs to the government.”

He said there is no confusion in the government because the Ministry of Planning drafts both the poverty reduction plan and the strategy paper.

Lay Prahas, secretary of state for the Ministry of Planning, agreed, saying there was some confusion six months ago when the strategy paper was handled through the Ministry of Finance and the poverty reduction plan was handled by the Ministry of Planning. Then the government decided the Ministry of Planning should handle both documents. Since then there has been no confusion, he said.

The ADB could not reached for comment.



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