PM Says Gov’t Flood Relief Efforts Over

Speaking at a flood aid distribution in Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday the government’s campaign for emergency flood relief is coming to an end because the most affected areas have all received help.

Today, Hun Sen is scheduled to visit Kompong Speu’s Sam­rong Tong district for his 43rd and last flood relief trip.

On Monday, he thanked nat­ional and international donors for their assistance, and the Finance Ministry for the speedy budget allocation made for emergency aid. About $10 million was allocated to pay for emergency food supplies, said Finance Minister Keat Chhon, who was with Hun Sen Monday.

From now on, it is “time for the government to think about the rebuilding of physical infrastructure damaged by the devastating floods,” the premier told the crowd of more than 5,000 people in Dangkao district.

“We have to finish the flood relief because we have seen that the people who suffered the most received our donations,” Hun Sen said.

He called on flood victims to grow other agricultural crops other than rice alone, and appealed to them to not better their lives through illegal means.

“I am requesting one thing: don’t make yourselves into robbers, brothel owners, drug smugglers and other illegal things which affect the society,” he said.

He also told the people to make money in their own village rather than working as a motorbike taxi driver or becoming a beggar in the city.

This year’s flooding caused 347 deaths and damage to infrastructure, including 907 km of national roads, Hun Sen said. Further­more, 7,068 houses, 1,966 meters of bridges, 988 schools and 132 health centers were also harmed by the flooding.

The flood caused $100 million in damage, officials said. But Keat Chhon said the floods will not severely affect economic growth, noting GDP is expected to in­crease to 6 percent in 2001 from 5.5 percent this year. Keat Chhon said the best way to cope with hardship is to continue government reform efforts on good governance, fiscal management and other issues. On Thursday he will discuss development with the Asian Development Bank and in two weeks will meet with the World Bank.



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