Samdech, Your Royal Highness,
Your Excellencies, the Officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia,
Your Excellencies, the Ambassadors,
Representatives of the Cambodia Air Traffic Service Company,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, it is my great honor and pleasure to join all of you to officially open the Air Traffic Control Center of the CATS Company here at the Phnom Penh International Airport.
On behalf of the Royal Government I heartily congratulate the CATS. I sincerely appreciate the successful efforts made by the CATS in the construction of this air traffic control center to meet our country’s increased need for air traffic control services.
On 7th January 1979, air traffic control service was restored here at Phnom Penh International Airport. Air traffic control and the airport itself were managed under the commander of Air Defense Forces of the Ministry of Defense. In 1994, during the first term of the Royal Government, air traffic control was upgraded through the assistance from the French Government valued at US$1.8 million.
In January 2001, recognizing the positive effects of Cambodia’s economic growth and development, the Royal Government assigned to the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation the authority to enter into a build co-operate transfer (BCT) agreement with the SAMART company to manage and develop Cambodia’s air services for a period of 22 years. Out of that agreement between the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation and SAMART, the Cambodia Air Traffic Service Company (CATS) was established.
Cambodia’s growing political and macro-economic stability, and the Royal Government’s sound policies of economic liberalization and open skies have resulted in a steady increase of air traffic in Cambodia. This new air traffic control center is another achievement in our strong record of performance in civil aviation, highlighted by the new Siem Reap International Airport and now the upgraded Phnom Penh International Airport.
Over just the recent two years, air control service has rapidly and greatly been improved, thus ensuring greater safety and heightened services as the new system is used. This new system uses advanced radar which enables air traffic control over the entire country, a capability not possible before. Indeed, this improvement in capacity will significantly contribute to national economic development via enhanced international air services not only domestically but also internationally involving flights that utilize Cambodia’s air space and thereby serving as a network that links Cambodia with the region and the world.
We have observed that the CATS Company has exerted strong efforts to implement the terms and conditions accorded in the agreement. The Chairman of the CATS Company has reported that this new Air Traffic Control Center has been constructed according to standards consistent with international levels as approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization. I believe that the CATS Company will continue to implement new and progressive air services projects to push civil aviation development in Cambodia.
The investment in this new center is valued at USD23 million, in which the CATS Company’s capital is 15%, loans form 70%, and income capital is 15%. Such capital was invested in equipment, construction and related facilities. The radar alone cost USD16.5 million. The telecommunication and information system costs USD4 million. Next year, in 2004, another high-tech radar system costing USD3.5 million will be installed at the Siem Reap International Airport.
I take this opportunity to emphasize the need to develop a strong private sector which would play a leading role in promoting economic growth and ensuring sustainability and rapid development. You already know that the Royal Government organizes regular for a between the Royal Government and private sector to cooperatively consult and solve difficulties and concerns of businessmen and investors. This mechanism has facilitated many achievements, including the laws, regulations, policies and measures to reduce the cost of doing business and create a favorable environment for business and investment.
Indeed, to support the government’s policy of generating higher growth and rapid poverty reduction, the development of private sector must be implemented simultaneously and consistently with the development of financial sector and good governance. In developing the private sector, the Royal Government with technical assistance from the ADB and other partners is identifying and assessing issues and constraints, and formulating a vision and strategy for effective implementation from the short to the long-term.
Let us recall some of the key developments in the building up of civil aviation during the second term of the Royal Government of Cambodia. Those include:
The improvement and development of Siem Reap International Airport, with financing from the ADB. The new airport was inaugurated on 6 December 2002;
The construction of the new terminal of the Phnom Penh International Airport, inaugurated on 6 May 2003; and
Today, the new Air Traffic Control Center, which was constructed under a “Build, Cooperate and Transfer” arrangement.
All these achievements have been realized according to the comprehensive investment and development program for civil aviation in Cambodia. Moreover, the Royal Government of Cambodia is now acting to improve the country’s domestic airports and strengthening and reforming civil aviation institutions so that these can catch up with new developments and cope with changes in the aviation market. It is our objective to enable the full exploitation of opportunities for development of our country, especially in speeding up the integration of Cambodia into the world market and economy.
I appreciate the CATS for emphasizing the employment of Cambodians in Civil Aviation. I understand that fully 93% of all CATS staff is Cambodians, including those absorbed from the State Secretariat for Civil Aviation and Royal Air Cambodge. Therefore, let me call on the Chairman of CATS to continue selecting more government personnel, especially those from the SCA and RAC who already have the skills and experience, to work for CATS, not only in the technical but also in the management levels. This will be another important contribution, helping to streamline government staffing. This also strengthens the partnership between the public and private sector.
I am truly happy that we increasingly have world-class air traffic control capacity. Indeed, if Cambodia does not have air traffic control services at international standards, then flight safety will be compromised and airlines will hesitate to offer services utilizing Cambodian airports. This will adversely affect our development not only in civil aviation but also in trade, tourism, commerce, and banking – all across the economy.
It is for this reason that the Royal Government has focused much attention on the development of civil aviation. On even further development, let me direct your attention to some points:
The rehabilitation and development of air transport infrastructure should be implemented through partnerships between the public and private sectors. This approach will better improve and strengthen the authorities who are charged with control and regulation in a transparent, accountable and sustainable way, appropriate to the development and globalization. I therefore urge the SCA to take as top priority the implementation of the policy on private sector partnerships.
The expansion and improved efficiency in the absorption and use of advanced satellite and information technology should be accelerated, with training both in-country and abroad as opportunities arise.
Language is crucial to technology transfer. The international language of aviation is English and therefore we must upgrade our English language capabilities at all levels and in all fields.
We must continue to promote the peace and security of the nation. Moreover, in order to maintain our country’s integrity, we must manage and control the use of technology in commercial and civil purposes, but safeguard against use of technology in ways that threatens the peace, security and stability of the country.
Once again, I wish to thank all ministries and institutions of the government, especially the Secretariat for Civil Aviation for its hard work, leadership and technical assistance provided to CATS in successfully constructing this center. I also thank all of you, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, for participating in this ceremony of achievement.