World Bank Report Dismissed by Local Office

The World Bank’s Phnom Penh office has disowned a bleak report that the Bank released in Sin­ga­pore last week, which claimed that Cam­bodia entered the ranks of the world’s fragile states in 2005.

The Bank’s local office an­nounced in a Wednesday statement that while Cambodia has long been fragile, it is now in fact improving, and that the report was wrong.

At its annual meeting in Singa­pore on Sept 15, the Bank released its 2006 Low Income Countries Under Stress, or “LICUS” report, which said Cambodia’s governance had worsened, making it a “core” LICUS.

The Bank report defined core LICUS countries as “fragile states” with particularly weak governance. It repeatedly referred to Cambodia as a “core” LICUS in 2005 and 2006.

In a statement Wednesday, the World Bank office said Cam­bo­dia was fragile, but is now improving.

“It is also incorrect to say that Cambodia has recently been added to the Bank’s list of fragile states: it has not, and it is no longer even in the ‘core group’ of such states,” the Bank said.

“World Bank Country Manager Nisha Agrawal notes that like other gradual reformers in this group of countries, Cambodia has made im­portant progress,” the statement adds. Cambodia is on a “firm path to recovery,” according to the statement.

Cristina Mejia, the World Bank’s spokeswoman in Bangkok, wrote in an e-mail Thursday that the errors in the earlier report were due to changes in methodology, though she did not elaborate.

The CPP’s National Assembly Finance and Banking Commission Chairman Cheam Yeap blasted the conflicting Bank reports. “The World Bank is always wrong,” he  said.

“The World Bank always hits Cambodia with rotten eggs and then apologizes. Cambodia cannot accept it,” he said.

“I warn the World Bank: Before it releases any report it should be careful. Cambodia needs donations, but they must not be laced with poison.”


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