Investors, Gov’t Forming Private-Sector Working Groups

Businessmen and government officials have begun forming working groups to improve dialogue between the public and private sectors, in hopes of building a better climate for private in­vestors.

The working groups will be able to have their say at a roundtable discussion during an up­coming Private Sector Forum hosted by Prime Minister Hun Sen early next month.

“Different businesses in different sectors [will] discuss common issues, and communicate with the government counterparts to develop a better investment climate,” said Don Boring, program officer for the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private-sector financing arm, which has pushed Cambodia to create the groups since late 1999. Hun Sen also urged local and foreign businesses to form working groups at the second government private sector meeting in July.

A dozen coordinators have been setting up seven groups in tour­­ism, agriculture and food processing, manufacturing, legal and governance, finance and banking, energy and infrastructure, and export processing, according to the Phnom Penh Chamber of Com­merce. Each group would consist of representatives from foreign investors, local businesses and government institutions.

“The idea behind this is to bring them all in one, linking together to improve the country’s economy,” said Thieng Kith, vice chairman of the local conglomerate Royal Group.

During the government private sector forum on Feb 2, the coordinators are expected to give a report on the formation of the groups, coordinators said.

Investors say the working groups would identify issues facing investors and work with the government to solve problems. The groups would work close­ly with international donors, which have urged Cambodia to mobilize the private sector to develop the country’s fragile economy.

“If one of three parties would not participate, the whole process would fail,” said Senaka Fernando, president of the International Business Club, consisting of 33 multinational corporations.



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