Ladies and Gentlemen,
National and International Guests,
Today, I have a great honor and pleasure to address the launching of the Cambodia Millennium Development Goals Report 2003 during this Sixth National Poverty Forum.
At the outset, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, may I express my deepest thanks to the Council for Social Development and the Ministry of Planning for organizing this launching. I also thank, in particular, the United Nations Development Programme, other UN agencies and the Swedish International Development Agency for supporting this endeavor.
In September 2000, the Royal Government of Cambodia, together with 188 other member-states of the UN, adopted theMillennium Declaration. In doing so, the world leaders agreed to a set of time-bound, measurable goals and targets for combating extreme poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and gender discrimination.
The Royal Government has fully committed itself to the Millennium Declaration and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. This reflects the Government’s strong determination to measure national development performance against the MDGs as it prepares the Millennium Development Goals Report on a regular basis.
We have now prepared the Cambodia Millennium Development Goals Report of 2003, and today we all participate in its launching. Together we shall ensure that the report is widely disseminated and used to guide the formulation of sector strategies across our country.
The report we launch today is the result of “contextualizing” the MDGs, now called Cambodian MDGs in order to better reflect realities in Cambodia. Unlike the 8 global MDGs, Cambodia’s MDGs consist of 9 goals. The 9th MDG of Cambodia is about demining, unexploded ordnance and victim assistance. The other 8 goals are very similar to the global MDGs, with the exception of the 8th MDG on Global Partnership in Development, which has yet been fully “localized” as its achievement does not entirely depend on Cambodians alone but requires cooperation with all international partners.
The report also provides a diagnosis of Cambodia’s major policies and programs contributing to each CMDG, and identifies major challenges to attain the CMDGs. However, the report is a work in progress and will be further fine-tuned in the future as the country strengthens its statistical and overall policy analysis capacity.
This MDG report is in fact the second report on the status of MDGs in Cambodia. The first report was made in 2001, facilitated by the UN Country Team, and which laid the foundations of future reporting and sensitizing a large audience of stakeholders. The report that we launch today has been prepared under the leadership of the Council for Social Development, which applied a participatory approach that has included all major development stakeholders.
Indeed, the ultimate objective of the RGC is to ensure that by 2015, there will be much improved human resources, less poverty and inequality, reduced prevalence of HIV/AIDS, enhanced conservation of Cambodia’s environmental heritage, and a society without discrimination against women and where all girls and boys have better and equal access to education.
We do recognize that have many challenges to overcome in our journey toward achieving the CMDGs. In response to those challenges, in a past decade, the RGC has designed and implemented many policies and strategies, such as the Governance Action Plan, Decentralization, “Neary Rattanak”, Education for All, Pro-poor Trade Strategy, National Poverty Reduction Strategy and many others. Those policies and strategies are interlinked and complementary. For success, they also require adequate capacity in human resources and the establishment of effective and efficient institutions and government for substantial progress.
Indeed, the improvement of human capacity remains imperative in reducing poverty, improving the well-being of people, and the sustainable development of the country. Human capacity must be improved to ensure the improvement of the impact of resources committed to reaching the CMDGs. Over the long term, the increase in the skills and schooling of the population will set the nation on a more dynamic, prosperous and diversified growth path toward socio-economic development in Cambodia.
The development journey that Cambodia has embarked upon is long and arduous, strewn with many, seemingly insurmountable obstacles on the path to prosperity comparable to the level enjoyed by the more developed neighbors. Indeed, poverty reduction remains to be the most important objective of the Royal Government. The Royal Government acknowledges that poverty cannot be fully resolved in a day, a month nor a year. However, with a clear program, and united in determined, continuing and sincere effort, we can certainly achieve many incremental positive improvements that uplift the lives of the Cambodia people day by day.
In this context, the key economic strategy of the Royal Government is to ensure a favorable macro-economic and financial environment that fosters sustainable economic growth that provides the fertile ground for poverty reduction via the rapid expansion of employment and effective mobilization and use of national resources. The Royal Government will further promote domestic investment activities, particularly by boosting the development of SMEs and manufacturing. Entrepreneurship and private sector capacity will be strengthened while enhancing incentives for foreign investments.
An important area of work is to focus on improvements in bilateral and multilateral economic development cooperation. Policy dialogue shall be facilitated with all development partners, while governance – particularly anti-corruption programs, is strengthened as reform programs are implemented across all sectors. These tasks need to be approached on a broad, common front that is mutually-reinforcing, to maximize effectiveness toward the socio-economic development of Cambodia.
The Royal Government will continue to promote the development of the market economy by enhancing the stability of the policy environment. Such continuity will enhance the dynamism of the private sector which is the true engine of economic growth. The Royal Government realizes that partnership and mutual support must be established between itself and the private sector, with state interventions kept at low levels. Such partnership must be governed by laws and regulations which are strictly and consistently implemented.
Over the past decade, Cambodia achieved significant economic growth. Even with such growth however, poverty was not reduced as required for sustainable economic growth. The proportion of the population in poverty fell from 39% in 1994 to around 36% in 1999, thus falling by only 1% per year. Moreover, economic growth in rural areas is not consistent with population growth. Together with other factors such as increasing rural unemployment and poor employment in non-agriculture, this indicates a worrisome trend.
The trends indicate that the estimated proportion of poor people in Cambodia will be 28% by 2015, more than the MDG set at 19.5%. Thus we cannot achieve the poverty reduction goal. But our best efforts must continue, taking into account the following important points:
· striving toward a long-term high economic growth rate not less than 6 to 7% per year;
· further strengthening of implementation of current population policy to promote birth spacing; and
· further implementation of governance reform, especially anti-corruption, to help achieve equity in the distribution of the results of economic growth.
The Cambodia Millennium Development Goals that have been adopted will only be achieved if we all make sacrifices, if we all commit to wisely use all available potential to assure continuity, sustainability and equity in development. The Royal Government stands strongly committed to the achievement of the Cambodia MDGs by adopting these as the key pillars of Cambodia’s national development policy and strategy.
Again I thank the CSD, Ministry of Planning, UNDP, SIDA and concerned agencies that have contributed to the success of the development of this document. I believe that such participation from all concerned agencies and development partners will help create the strong basis for the achievement of our MDGs.
Let me wish you all, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen and dear compatriots, the five gems of Buddhist wishes.
I declare the formal adoption and dissemination of the Cambodia Millennium Development Goals Report 2003, knowing that such will contribute to growth, employment, equity and efficiency in the Cambodian economy and society.