Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very happy and proud to join you all today to launch the Phnom Penh Plan for Development Management – an initiative for human resource development in our Great Mekong Sub-regional program. At the outset, may I express my deepest thanks to the Cambodia Development Council for organizing this launching. May I also thank, in particular, the Asian Development Bank for providing support to the Phnom Penh Plan, as it has supported the various other projects under the GMS program.
The First GMS Summit in Phnom Penh
As you all know, the Phnom Penh Plan was decided upon by the Leaders of the GMS member-nations and the ADB President at the First GMS Summit in Phnom Penh in November 2002. The implementation of the Phnom Penh Plan actually began in July 2003. Today we proceed with this launch – somewhat late, but still appropriate, since human resource development, especially for development management, is a crucial need in the GMS region, particularly here in Cambodia.
Indeed, I stress that the Royal Government of Cambodia is fully committed to the building and strengthening of its human resources. The building of human resources is our top priority. International experience has amply demonstrated that the development begins and ends with human beings. In sum, we fully subscribe to the words of H.E. Tadao Chino, the President of the ADB, who said: “… investing in the sub-region’s human resources will remove a critical constraint to development…”
I am glad that the implementation of the Phnom Penh Plan for Development Management in the GMS is already well underway. At the 1st GMS Summit of November 2002 in Phnom Penh, the GMS Leaders agreed that the implementation of the GMS Program would henceforth accelerate, since a strong foundation for economic and political cooperation has been established among the GMS Nations. We agreed that our respective countries share the sub-region’s resources and thus its destiny.
At the 1st GMS Summit, the GMS Leaders agreed upon the following priorities:
a. completion of the GMS transport and economic corridors to tie the whole sub-region together;
b. minimization of impediments to subregional tourism and business, including new initiatives for Mekong tourism, a GMS Visa, trade facilitation, two additional pilot sites for “One Stop-Service” customs inspection of goods, promotion of regional power trade, and strengthening of the GMS Business Forum;
c. Realization of sustainable development by ensuring the careful management of both national and common resources, specifically the Mekong River, and commitment to the implementation of international conventions with regard to sustainable development, including the Kyoto Protocol and other agreements arising from the World Summit of Sustainable Development at Johannesburg; and
d. strengthened cooperation in human resource development, especially through the launching of the Phnom Penh Plan for Development Management in the GMS.
The Phnom Penh Plan is now being implemented and delivering benefits to the GMS member-countries. The ADB has approved a grant of US$800,000 from its Technical Assistance Special Fund as initial funding for the PPP. Several short courses have already been organized with participants from the various GMS nations on topics such as “Corporate Governance”; “Advanced Management”; “Poverty Policy Interventions”; and “Urban Environment Management.”
Therefore, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia I wish to express our deep appreciation for the ADB’s support for the PPP and long-standing support for many other initiatives. I also invite much greater participation and support for the PPP by all interested development partners.
I also welcome Japan and other donors who have expressed their interest in financing the implementation of the GMS projects. Moreover, the development of the Asian bond market can mobilize additional savings in region for the development of infrastructure in the GMS countries. In this regard, to speed up the development of bond market in Asia in general, and in Cambodia in particular, I would like to propose to the ADB to consider a new form of project finance for infrastructure projects in the GMS, involving grants, concessional loans and the issuance of bonds. The Royal Government of Cambodia will create a legal framework and market infrastructure necessary for launching a bond market in Cambodia.
Phnom Penh Plan: HRD for Sustained Growth
As inspired in part by the highly successful Colombo Plan, the Phnom Penh Plan for Development Management will train officials in the six participating countries in strategic planning, project management, community mobilization, and other skills central to development management and good governance.
While the GMS countries have accomplished much during the past decade, their capacity in development management remain relatively weak and thereby constrains their capacity to engender and sustain rapid yet sustainable socio-economic development and poverty reduction. There is a strong need for a critical mass of middle- and senior-level management and technical staff in the public sector in the six GMS countries, managers who are imbued with ideals of public service and appropriately equipped with public management skills and techniques. The development of a corps of middle-to-upper level public sector managers and technocrats is crucial to the sustained development of the GMS countries.
I am pleased that a training needs analysis has been completed under the Phnom Penh Plan. The TNA report will be a useful guide for the design of future training programs. The PPP training plan must be carefully designed so that the effort will produce managers in the GMS who are skilled in the key technical areas of the development process: (a) economic policy and strategy analysis, formulation and implementation, (b) development planning, (c) program and project design, appraisal and management, (d) organizational development including structures, systems and procedures; (e) public sector management, including fiscal management, procurement, inter-ministerial relations, public accounting and audit, and monitoring and evaluation.
Institutionalization of the PPP
I look forward to the institutionalization and expansion of the Phnom Penh Plan, and hope that greater resources are mobilized for its continuation into the long-term. Additional resources will enable the implementation of the PPP in a way that maximizes its benefits. Indeed, as I have recommended in previous occasions, the greatest rewards and returns from HRD interventions shall be derived from long-term, intensive, degree-oriented technical-cum-practical training of key national experts.
Furthermore, the PPP training plan should also recruit, select and allocate training opportunities across the GMS nations in such a manner that helps reduce the development gaps among the GMS nations. Over time, the GMS Phnom Penh Plan will help build a critical mass of managers and experts in the region who have established bonds that serve to strengthen integration across the GMS countries.
In closing, I reiterate my conviction that the GMS Phnom Penh Plan is a crucial intervention for sustainable development and growth across our entire sub-region. We in the Royal Government of Cambodia will support the institutionalization of the PPP, as we look forward to the mobilization of more resources for implementation. I most sincerely wish us all, success in the implementation of the PPP!