Ladies and Gentlemen:
Today, I am pleased and honored to participate in this very important conference to share with all of you, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, my views with regard to the administrative reforms. At the same time, I would like also to extend my congratulation and appreciation to the Secretariat of the Council for Administrative Reforms for organizing this national conference, in cooperation with its development partners. I consider this conference as a forum for our national policy institutions to take stock of their performance, results and the challenges that they have faced so far, in order to assess the strengths and weaknesses from the experiences for their future action plans.
As I often mentioned, both in the national and international forums, I strongly believe that Cambodia has no other better choice than moving forward with all the reforms, in a deep and diversified manner. In this respect, we are fully aware that only if we have to push with the reforms together, then we can hope for freeing ourselves from poverty and hunger, and rebuilding the nation with pride and dignity. Thus, only a strong commitment to follow the paths of in-depth and broader reforms will help transforming Cambodia into a nation with peace, stability, progress, prosperity and a country with freely and openly development, well integrated into regional and world communities. On contrary, if we get rid of the reforms we certainly will lose our chance and opportunity at hand now and will remain captured by the poverty, conflicts and endless uncertainties.
Indeed, our strategies and activities for the next four years need to be firmly rooted for the cause of a sustainable development, especially the efforts aimed at achieving peace, development and prosperity for each and every one in the future. As I have proposed during the 1st Council of Ministers meeting on 16 July 2004, the Royal Government at the present is the government of Employment, Equity and Efficiency. Thus, in order to attain these objectives, we have to profoundly implement the prioritized activities of “Rectangular Strategy” which adopted by the Royal Government at the 1st Council of Ministers meeting.
The key contents of this “Rectangular Strategy” are to continue actions and strengthen the results that the Royal Government of Cambodia has achieved during its 2nd Mandate through implementing the Triangle Strategy and identified priority components of the “Millennium Development Goals”, the “Five years Social-Economic Development Plan 2001-2005”, the “National Poverty Redaction Strategy 2003-2005” and other strategies, and through broad discussions nationally and internationally including among ministries/institutions, civil society and donor community.
The main objective of the “Rectangular Strategy” is to improve and enhance the capacity of public institutions, promote good governance and modernize the nation’s economic infrastructure, aiming at promoting economic growth and employment generation, guaranteeing social equity and increasing the effectiveness of public sector, including the preservation of natural and cultural heritages. All these are the most important factors to sustainable development and poverty reduction.
I will not go into more details about the “Rectangular Strategy” as this strategy has been already disseminated and publicly publicized. Moreover, upon my instruction, the Supreme National Economic Council has organized the national workshop to launch the strategy and discuss its detailed programme among all civil servants from ministries/institutions of the Royal Government.
Instead, I will make additional comments on one topic that is directly related to this conference.
As H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Sok Ann has briefly reported, the core of the Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government is Good Governance where the State Reform forms an important part.
First – Good Governance
As I have just mentioned previously good governance is the backbone of development. The enhancement of good governance in our country is very crucial for ensuring peace, stability, progress, prosperity and sustainable development, as well as actual poverty reduction of our people.
At the same time, I would like to suggest that good governance is not a new matter for Cambodia. For the last ten years, our journey is strongly and proactively moving forward together with peace, stability, and social order which has been rebuilt everywhere in Cambodia. On another hand, the reforms have been strengthened and promoted more deeply in all areas and all sectors.
The previous Royal Government has accomplished many crucial tasks toward good governance. In March 2001, The RGC has been approved on more than 100 concrete actions of good governance to be included in the Good Governance Action Plan. The Good Governance Action Plan covers over seven components of actions from legal and judiciary reforms to the reforms of natural resource management.
Indeed, the progress sometimes was impeded due to other obligation that needs to be met. This task is such essential for us to accomplish to enhance good governance in according to the real events, especially better reflecting the priority issues highlighted in the government’s “Rectangular Strategy”.
Nowadays, we are currently promoting the good governance action plan, according to the real situation, under the direction of the Council of Administration Reform. In this case, I would like to urge line ministries and all development partners, to fully coordinate with the Council of Administration Reform in order to finalize this new governance action plan for adoption as soon as possible. While this draft will be completed in the next few weeks, the Council of Administration Reform will lead a broad discussion with line ministries and other development partners, thus finalizing the draft for approval by the RGC before end of the year.
Second – State Reform:
We all agree that executive branches must be a good bridge and efficient partner of legislative and judiciary bodies as well as that of all development partners in every development activity of the nation. At the same time, executive body must pay attention on attracting public investment and enhancing quality of public services as service provider. Public services with quality have to be delivered to people timely where there are needed. This means administrative institutions must transform themselves to be efficient service providers who are present widely across the country.
In order to implement this spirit, I think public servants need to change their way of working or their way of thinking, by changing the view of being as administrators to the public service providers. In this sense, the State has to be close to the people, be transparent, efficient and especially be open and responsive to people’s needs. In short, the State has to pay more attention to their respective clients as a successful private firm.
Relating to State reform, the Royal Government in the last mandate has adopted two basic strategies which are the policies to further promote efforts in State reform.
These strategies are:
1. Public Service Rationalization Strategy
This strategy puts forward objectives to strengthen the capacity of public service delivery, to be a confident development partner. Initiatives on priority issues related to salary, employment and public service delivery are being implemented with our available resources.
NPRS is the result of comprehensive consultations with all the development partners. Indeed, this strategy defines identity of institutional strengthening and governance improvement, which are the important factors for moving forward toward success in improving peoples’ livelihood. All at once, NPRS also suggests ways and priorities in every sector in order to reduce the poverty of our people.
In the next several weeks, the Council for Administrative Reform and its partners will define operational objectives for actions which will lead to the success, and identify stages for the sustainable development and good governance.
As we already know, within a successful market economy framework, the Sate always avoids itself from activities where the market and private sector can effectively operate. In the contrary, the State must put more emphasis on main responsibility such as assuring the rule of law, especially public service delivery with high quality. In this sense, the State must establish a regulatory framework that supports transparency and must attentively implement macroeconomic policy, as well as establish a favorable financial environment for investment and trade activities. At this point, public service delivery must generate direct positive effects on people welfare, especially in education and health sectors. Indeed, the State must pay high attention on corruption eradication in every form. This means the State must achieve all the aspects of good governance which represent the necessary conditions in raising saving, investment and sustainable growth.
Experiences have shown that, in order to achieve concrete changes in economic environment, we have to formulate an internally consistent policy. Moreover, we have to implement this policy with a view of generating concrete achievements in a level that assure the momentum and determination of the reform. Only by doing so, the reforms will not retreat while Cambodia is advancing on integration into regional and global economy. Disrupted and scattered reforms, which result in impediments to domestic economic activities, cannot assure positive reaction from investors and development partners.
For these reasons, I think that each reform program must be jointly implemented, so as to successfully put into operation our Rectangular Strategy. Administrative reform, public financial reform, legal and judiciary reform, the reform of armed forces and good governance are the main factors that lead us to success in the sustainable development of our country.
Cambodia has gone through a long journey of development since the last ten years, defining the path and knowing exactly the potential for development. The Royal Government realizes that time, preparation and resource are crucial factors for success. Indeed, Angkor Wat was built by putting stones together with strong will and fine vision. In this sense, fraternity among Cambodians and with support from international development partners shall play an important role for success and achievement.
In conclusion, I encourage full implementation of action plan for administrative reform. Administrative and public administration reforms must be implemented and considered as the most important mission. More importantly, we must cooperate with responsibility and determination in accordance to our respective functions.
Finally, let me wish you all, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Five Gems of Buddhist Blessing! I also wish the conference fruitful and productive.