Thursday, June 3, 2010

From DPA

Cambodia receive 1100 Millions US dollars from donors countires

Phnom Penh
- Cambodia's donors on Thursday pledged a record 1.1 billion dollars in financial assistance for 2010 amid warnings that the country needs to improve accountability and transparency.

Japan was again the largest donor, said Finance Minister Keat Chhon, who outlined the government's main focus areas.

'We have our priorities: roads, water, human resources, electricity,' Keat Chhon said. 'These are the top four priorities. We also need funding for legal reform.'

The two-day donor conference, which concluded Thursday, saw Cambodian officials, foreign donors and non-governmental groups gather to discuss the country's most pressing issues.

Last year, donors provided 951 million dollars, around half the government's budget, and, at the time, the largest sum given.

In recent weeks, media reports have revealed that millions of dollars of revenues from resource industries were not properly accounted for.

The World Bank on Thursday singled out as 'critical issues' the need to improve transparency and accountability in Cambodia's handling of public finances and natural resources.

Other complaints have revolved around the use of aid. Japanese Ambassador Masafumi Kuroki indicated his country would provide 130 million dollars, before adding that aid effectiveness could be improved.

'There is increased monitoring of aid between the government and partners, and I think we have to further promote this process of monitoring of aid,' he said. 'There is already a mechanism to do that, and we have to strengthen that mechanism.'

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen told the conference that good governance was 'the most important prerequisite for a sustainable and equitable economic development and social justice.'

'In the context of this vision, the royal government considers the fight against corruption as a top priority,' he said, citing a new anti-corruption law and an ongoing crackdown on illegal logging and fisheries as evidence of the government's commitment.

And he said agriculture was the top development priority for the country's mainly rural population because it could both bolster economic growth and ensure food security.

He also pledged to pay more attention to granting land concessions to the poor. Land concessions are a highly contentious subject with large investors in possession of more than 1 million hectares.

The conference was reminded by World Bank country head Annette Dixon that 4 million Cambodians - around one-third of the population - live in poverty while many more are on the margins.

'Life continues to be extremely challenging for the majority of Cambodian rural families, who remain vulnerable to shocks,' she said.

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