Gov’t Seeks $1.5B in Aid

The government plans to seek nearly $1.5 billion from international donors for the next three years at next month’s World Bank-sponsored Consultative Group meeting of Cambodia’s international donors, officials said Friday.

Minister of Finance Keat Chhon said he hopes the international lending community will recognize the government’s efforts toward reform.

“I am optimistic that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have seen our efforts in implementing good governance and cutting down corruption,” he told reporters after Friday’s Council of Ministers meeting.

A recent World-Bank sponsored survey in Cambodia found that corruption still exists and that courts and customs employees are perceived to be the most corrupt in the country.

Yet the bank in March commended the government for taking steps to reform the government and pledged $30 million to tackle corruption and grow the economy.

The grant was $10 million less than the World Bank originally had considered granting Cam­bodia during October meetings with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Other lenders have criticized Cambodia for growing too dependent on outside aid. One senior Asian Development Bank official, Yoshihiro Iwasaki, recently told the government, “The period of emergency is over. It’s time for long-term development.”

Keat Chhon said of the $1.5 billion, $69 million is being requested from the IMF, which in October resumed assistance after suspending aid in late 1996, in large part because of corruption in the logging industry.

Each year, Keat Chhon said Cambodia will need roughly $500 million. At last year’s CG meeting, donors pledged $470 for one year, despite a government request to fund for more than one year.

Council of Ministers spoke­s­man Penn Thol said the government hopes for a three-year commitment to implement a poverty-reduction program.

This year’s CG meeting will be held in Paris on May 25-26.



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