While recognizing that Cambodia has massive debts owed to other countries, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday Cambodia will not pay up until the countries show proof.
Speaking at an anti-corruption conference at the Hotel Inter-Continental, Hun Sen used the donor keyword “transparency” to attack richer countries as hypocrites. Many creditor nations claim Cambodia owes them certain amounts, but do not present any documentation to prove it, the premier said.
“What we want is a clear and transparent solution,” the prime minister said, adding that before Cambodia repaid any debts, he wants to see “clear, supportive documents” of the amounts owed. Donor countries continually complain about the lack of integrity and open-accounting—sometimes called “transparency”—in the way the government allocates its budget.
Meanwhile, they want the debt repaid “without having supportive evidence,” Hun Sen said.
Cambodia owes more than a billion dollars to the former Soviet Union and the US alone, officials say, though specific amounts are difficult to obtain.
Om Yentieng, adviser to Hun Sen, said after the meeting that the speech was not meant to imply that Cambodia would not make good on its debts. Creditor countries will get their money, but they must be patient, the adviser said.
“These countries should understand the situation in Cambodia. It is a very, very difficult job for Prime Minister Hun Sen as the government leader right now,” he said.
Even though Hun Sen was only a student when former president Lon Nol began incurring debts, “he still agrees to pay,” Om Yentieng said.