Several Donors Deny Plans to Suspend Aid

Several of Cambodia’s foreign donors said they have no plans to suspend financial assistance to the government, despite the Sam Rainsy Party’s calls to postpone foreign aid during the current political deadlock.

Upon arrival from France Mon­day, opposition leader Sam Rainsy told reporters that several Euro­pean countries prom­ised to tem­porarily suspend aid to Cam­bodia.

“From today to April, a number of countries within the [European Union] will suspend aid because they cannot provide to an illegitimate government,” he said, without specifying which countries. The countries will continue hum­an­itarian aid, he said, but they will stop financing the government.

At a press conference Mon­day, Pierre-Andre Wiltzer, a minister in the French Foreign Af­fairs Minis­try, said France would not make any changes to its aid con­tri­bu­tions to Cambodia. Financial assistance from France, which tops $25 million a year plus aid for NGOs, is pledged on a long-term bas­is, he said, and “therefore will not be affected by the political situation.”

Similar comments were made by an official from the German Em­­bassy Tuesday. Asked whe­th­er Germany had plans to sus­pend aid, the official said “definitely not.”

The funding that Germany provides, about $18.4 million allocated on a two-year basis, “is based on consultations with the old government,” the official said.

The official also said that since Germany gives Cambodia grants, rather than loans, its contributions are not required to be approved by the National Assembly. “Whatever we do, it is for the benefit of Cam­bodia,” the official added.

Assistance from the US, “has con­­tinued to NGOs and relevant gov­ernment bodies,” embassy spokes­man David Gainer said Tuesday. But he noted that during the prolonged deadlock, “Cam­bodia has not been able to make prog­ress in a number of areas,” including meeting the deadline to ratify its membership in the World Trade Organization, approve a Khmer Rouge tribunal and introduce a commercial court.

In 2003, the US contributed about $40 million to Cambodia through the US Agency for Inter­national Development, Gain­er said.

(By Lor Chandara, Michelle Vachon and Wency Leung)


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