Millions of Pledged Dollars Going Unspent

A lack of coordination among donors and weak government program implementation are some reasons why only 59 percent of the amount pledged by the donor community over four years has been disbursed, the acting chief of the World Bank’s Cambodia office said in a report.

Furthermore, it is unlikely that the level of future aid will be increased or even brought back to the levels of 1992 through 1995, because of a dwindling donor com­munity and competing needs such as Kosovo, Bonaven­ture Mbida-Essama said in a report released Wednesday during a World Bank mission meeting to discuss assistance strategy for 2000 to 2003.

From 1992 to 1995, the donor community pledged $2.29 billion or an average of $572 million per year. Only 59 percent—or $1.35 billion—of the amount pledged over those four years has been disbursed.

“The main reasons for the failure to use most of the resources committed to Cambodia include inadequately designed programs and projects, the donor-driven nature of a large part of the aid provide, the lack of coordination among donors…” the report said.

It also said aid has already decreased, with donors pledging $470 million at the meeting in February, $100 million less than the 1992 to 1995 average per year.

Canadian Ambassador Norm­an Mailhot said he had not yet gone over Mbida-Essama’s re­port, but acknowledged that there are probably some problems in coordinating the donor community. “That’s definitely a possibility,” Mailhot said.

The complexity and multiplicity of the different donor’s procedures that prevent the government from using the funds as needed, weak government implementation, and failure to put a sufficient emphasis on building local capacity in an efficient manner have also contributed to the problem.

Bill Costello, director of AusAID, said part of the lack of coordination is that donors usually reach the same conclusions of where priority needs are.

“Donor coordination works best when the government has the capacity to organize it,” Costello said. “The government is moving toward that.”

Australia has disbursed 100 percent of its aid because it doesn’t rely on the government to handle the payments and projects, Costello added.

Mbida-Essama noted improvements are likely because of the government appears to be in­creasingly taking charge of the development agenda. The last meeting of the World Bank delegation will be Oct 27, when do­nors will meet officials to discuss government reform efforts.


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