Venerable Buddhist Monks,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, I have a great honor and pleasure to join you all in the inauguration ceremony of Oknha Mong Port, which testifies a new achievement in the history of infrastructure development, promoting the development of our economy and environment conducive to investments and private sector development in Cambodia. May I congratulate and highly appreciate for the efforts in attaining this great achievement, and I consider this as a first private sector contribution into the development of physical infrastructure, the important element for socio-economic rehabilitation and development of Cambodia.
To take this great opportunity, on behalf of Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) and my own self, I would like to express my deep gratitude to staff, workers and engineers, and particularly to Oknha Mong Rithy, the Director General of the Mong Rithy Group Company who have exerted their utmost efforts to attaining this achievement. Furthermore, may I also extend my appreciations to all the civil servants at all levels of including local authorities for their cooperation and facilitation provided to the construction of this port.
At the same time, I would like to take this opportunity to draw your attention on some issues related to the investment climate and private sector development in Cambodia, which are the key components of the Royal Government Strategy to achieve sustainable economic growth aiming at poverty reduction.
Indeed, the Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government of the Third Legislation of the National Assembly considers the development of physical infrastructure to be important, synonymous to human blood veins, to improving economic foundation and promoting the sustainable economic growth and reduce the poverty. In this sense, seaport presents a significant economic infrastructure, which facilitates trading and exchange of goods between commercial centers in the regions and the world.
Thus, the port forms an important part of transportation infrastructures, the major means to stimulate “the engine of economic growth” in order to increase living standards and welfare, by opening access to trading with the world. With this good port, the out-loading, stocking, transportation and importing of goods will be conducted in a more effective manner and in larger quantity, maintaining better quality and consuming less time for transport. This includes reduced costs to meet market demand, thus finally it will lead to the reduction in transaction costs. This will contribute to enhancing Cambodian export competitiveness. In addition, this international port will play a significant role in attracting investors for all other sectors, including such sectors as industry, agriculture and tourism that can generate employment for Cambodian people and create also favorable conditions for the development of health and education as well.
In this regard, I am convinced that this port will indeed contribute to the development of this region and the country as a whole through employment generation and trade facilitation, leading to poverty reduction among Cambodian people.
The construction of this port is in response to the policy commitment of the Royal Government in promoting domestic and foreign investments aiming at strengthening the base for economic growth in Cambodia. Furthermore, I would like to emphasize that the main objectives of the Royal Government is to focus on and welcome the domestic investments in order to promote our private sector development. Thus, the Royal Government is encouraging greater involvement of domestic investors which tend to be sustainable and resistant to external crises and shocks. The involvement of national investors in the development process is a key factor determining the country development direction and achievements, which does not belong solely to the RG but also to all of us. Consequently, if there is no involvement from the private sector, the development would not be a success and encounter many challenges.
On the other hand, this port can be a positive image of the country gaining good perception from investors to invest in Cambodia. Cambodia has a good geographical location within ASEAN for investment and it has good cooperation with other countries. With a market of more than 500 millions people, sufficient transport network, peace, security, investment incentives, low labor cost, political maturity and government’s efforts in achieving the core of “Rectangular Strategy”, which is good governance, I am convinced that Cambodia is fully qualified for long term investment. In this sense, I urge domestic and foreign investors to invest in Cambodia and I also thank existing investors to remain in Cambodia.
Cambodia’s efforts over the last two decades have faced both, domestic and external challenges. Cambodia has recently joined the WTO. Indeed, it has put Cambodia in a more competitive and vital situation which is a pressure that we all have to overcome. Once again, I want to stress that economic development is not the sole task of the Royal Government. Within the “Rectangular Strategy” and NPRS frameworks, the Royal Government has clearly identified who are our development partners, among which the private sector is one of our main partner and the engine of growth. In this sense, the Royal Government regularly organizes the “Government–Private Sector Forum” for open dialogue on the difficulties and challenges and the lesions learnt and feedbacks from the private sector, — in order to set and implement effective policies and help the government to better play its role as a facilitator, as well as to promote the private sector to its fullest growth potential.
Now, Cambodia is more matured politically. This really helps to reduce dramatically the political risks and to build public confidence for investments. I am convinced that political developments in the future will be in good health along with peace and consistency and having economic development as core. Moreover, the Royal Government is undertaking great efforts in dealing with corruption, which is the main barrier to investment and development of the private sector in Cambodia, through the implementation of laws and regulations. We have amended investment law in 2003 that creates better investment climate to a higher level. At the same time, we also have other laws such as Law on Intellectual Rights, adopted in January 2003, and another important draft Law on Commercial Companies is awaiting the adoption by National Assembly. The Royal Government is enhancing comprehensive legal development to attract domestic and foreign investments and we clearly understand that legal support will lower risks in doing business that represents the major prerequisite for all investors.
Another main factor is to maintain existing investments in the long run that is to prevent two sources of investment outflow, which are the investment withdrawal and the bankruptcy. Foreign investors play a major role in enhancing economic development through capital formation, employment and growth as well as modern technology transfer to Cambodia such as information technology. The Royal Government has issued various policies to facilitate trade and business meaning free flow of trade through economic infrastructure development that includes roads, bridges and ports. Furthermore, domestic private sector development is not of less importance. The Royal Government has issued policies for enhanced development of SMEs, especially to develop their competitiveness.
In conclusion, all these achievements are so important to facilitate trade and business which also reflects the improved climate for investment and private sector development in Cambodia. The Royal Government equally values both domestic and foreign investments consistently with our policies. The Royal Government is putting all its further efforts to improve investment climate for domestic and foreign investors and to jointly enhance Cambodian economy to a higher growth speed that responds well to regional and international competition. This newly built port is an evidence of this effort. For ending, let me wish you all, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Five Gems of Buddhist Blessing.