Donor countries meeting this week in Paris should introduce stricter monitoring and tougher conditions on the government’s spending of assistance money, opposition party leader Sam Rainsy said Monday.
Speaking before his departure for this week’s Consultative Group meeting, where he is slated to have sideline talks with donor representatives, Sam Rainsy outlined examples of corruption he will raise.
According to Sam Rainsy, his goal is not to sabotage aid to Cambodia, but to point out to donors how they can more effectively promote change by better monitoring how their money is being spent.
The opposition leader also criticized the donors’ exclusively economic approach to measuring Cambodia’s development, saying it does not reflect reality.
“I am not going to Paris…to ask for a suspension or reduction of assistance to Cambodia,’’ Sam Rainsy said. “But, what I want to ensure is that the assistance is effectively channeled to the Cambodian people who need the assistance most.”
He said Cambodia’s development is being hampered by “impunity,’’ the phenomenon of rich or well-connected people escaping punishment for political or economic crimes.
While donors have worried about deforestation, demobilization and corruption, other issues—such as land reform, commune elections, the selling of state assets to foreign companies and sweet deals with private companies for government contracts—have been ignored, said Sam Rainsy.
“Close monitoring [of aid money] is required before money can actually be disbursed. This is my only objective,” Sam Rainsy said.
However, one diplomat rejected the criticism Monday, noting that current reforms at the scandal-wracked Cambodian Mine Action Center prove that donor funds are monitored and the recipients scrutinized.
“We are very careful in the funds that we extend to the government,” the diplomat said.
Sam Rainsy also criticized the donors’ focus on economic indicators to measure Cambodia’s progress.
“I will ask the donors to be less technocratic, to pay less attention to figures…like the GDP (gross domestic product) growth which is 5 to 6 percent per year,” he said, noting that such growth only pertains to a tiny percentage of the population.
Sam Rainsy also announced Monday that he received the “Passport to Freedom,” a human rights accolade awarded last week by a group of European Union parliamentarians.