Sam Rainsy Tells Donors to Monitor Funds More Closely

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.




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