Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, I am very honored and delighted to join you all today to launch the Cambodia National Poverty Reduction Strategy 2002-2005.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, please allow me to express my deep gratitude and sincere appreciation for the efforts made by the Council for Social Development, Working Group on Social Development of the Ministries/Institutions concerned, City-Provincial authorities, national and international organizations, civil society, private sector, and especially the World Bank, IMF, UNDP, CIDA, other donors who have provided technical assistance and actively participated in succeeding the Cambodia’s NPRS. I would like also to take this opportunity to thank the Council for Social Development and the World Bank for their efforts and supports in making this gathering possible.
As you already know, Cambodia is not the only country that has undergone the process of preparing a NPRS. Over the last few years, such NPRS has emerged as an important aspect of the process of ensuring that there is consistency and synergy between the poverty-alleviation programs of the government and its development partners, both national and international. In Cambodia, we took the process of formulating the NPRS very seriously. We worked hard to have a fully open and participatory process, enabling many sectors of society to join in the discussions and consultations. There were at least five national workshops on the NPRS, as well as many more sectoral and technical meetings and consultations.
With today’s launching of the Cambodia NPRS, our joint efforts are being widely recognized. Several assessments of Cambodia’s NPRS have been undertaken by international as well as national observers. They all agree that the Cambodia NPRS is the product of an open and extensive participatory process that involved all agencies, sectors and stakeholders at all levels. In this regard, the Royal Government initiated a link between Cambodia’s anti-poverty strategies with the national budget plan and conducted an in-depth analysis on other sectoral issues. Furthermore, inter-ministerial coordination and monitoring mechanism has also been improved along with the work of the Council for Social Development and its General Secretariat. It is true that we have produced a first good Cambodia NPRS, although it is not yet a perfect NPRS. Nevertheless, we will continue to work on its improvement by incorporating it with our five year Socio-Economic Development Plan (SEDP). In particular, the Royal Government will continue to improve the economic and fiscal aspects of this strategy by focusing on the improvements of sectors related to the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework. Moreover, we will also include new visions including various important economic perspectives provided by the Supreme National Economic Council (SNEC) into the strategy.
The Cambodia NPRS for 2003-2005 which is launching now is of high significance, because it is evidence reflecting the commitment of the Royal Government towards the millennium development goal which 147 heads of state and governments endorsed at the World Summit in September 2000.
The result of social-economic monitoring in 1999 showed that about 35.9% of the Cambodian population lived under poverty line. It is clear that poverty is a complex issue and has multiple dimensions related to high population growth, inadequacy of sanitary, education, opportunity, and safety, food insecurity, social exclusion, and vulnerability, etc. The most important aspects of the poverty in Cambodia include:
- High poverty incidence in the countryside and the highest rate is among the families whose household headed those who are employed in the agricultural sector;
- Poor families having a tendency to expand among big families whose household headed by young males;
- Most of the poor are those families in which the head of the household has had either no formal education or only some primary schooling; and
- The poverty has the lowest rate in Phnom Penh.
The most challenge in development efforts faced by the Royal Government is poverty reduction and the improvement of the living quality of the Cambodian population which is rapidly growing. The Royal Government clearly understands and considers poverty as a great economic loss and it is morally unacceptable which can lead to the destruction of the society. Therefore, the poverty reduction in Cambodia has become the most important development goal of the Royal Government. Based on this philosophy, we laid out the NPRS, which contains the following key components:
First, strengthening peace, stability and social order through concrete measures aims at enhancing the state of law, human rights protection, and democracy in order to create a favorable political environment and security for the long term sustainable development.
Second, ensuring long term sustainable economic growth with 6-7% annual growth.
Third, equitable distribution of economic growth between the rich and the poor, city and rural, and female and male.
Fourth, guaranteeing sustainable management and use of environment and natural resources.
As I mentioned above, we spent a lot of times and resources to arrange the discussions and consultations to work on the improvement of this important document until it was adopted by the plenary meeting of the Council of Ministers on 20 December 2002. In this sense, our NPRS has been achieved through a wide participation and agreement from all stakeholders. Thus, in addition to the SEDPII, the NPRS will play role as a compass and an instrument to guide and manage changes and reforms for the development, and for measuring the results of our implementation towards the attainment of strategic mottos of the Royal Government: “Reducing people’s poverty through long term high economic growth, sustainable environment and social equity”.
Due to the reasons given above, I believe that there is no need for me to provide a detailed comment on the content of the NPRS again. Nevertheless, I would like to underline some important pillars of the NPRS as the following:
First, maintaining macroeconomic stability to promote sustainable economic growth whereby the private sector should play the leading role.
Second, improving rural livelihoods through improving the possibilities of using local services by focusing on policy implementation, programs and concrete measures to ensure the increase of income to people living in the rural areas. Those focuses are: land reform program; water, agriculture, forestry and fishery policies as well as projects on construction and maintenance of rural transportation infrastructure system, etc.
Third, expanding job opportunities focusing on the efforts to create jobs and professions through private sector development, expanding exports, promoting the establishment of light and medium and manufactured industry, and expanding tourism as well.
Fourth, improving people’s capabilities focusing mainly on the improvement of education, healthcare and nutrition.
Fifth, strengthening institutions and improving governance focusing mainly on the implementation of the Governance Action Plan (GAP) of the Royal Government.
Sixth, reducing vulnerability and strengthening social inclusion focusing mainly on environmental sustainability and sustainable management of natural resources. There are also a number of important problems which need to be solved such as disaster management, especially flood, dry, land mine clearance; – a legacy of long years of war, and the problem of vulnerable groups include the disabled, those affected by HIV/AIDS, orphans, street and abandoned children, the homeless, and food security, etc.
Seventh, promoting gender equity focusing mainly on reducing gender-based disparities in all fields of the society.
Eighth, giving top priority to demography and ethnography through promoting the implementation of health reproduction program, family planning for the poor, increasing primary school education for the poor, increasing job opportunity for the poor, etc.
Certainly, we still have a long way to go and to overcome uncountable obstacles. We all recognize that we cannot resolve all problems of poverty within one day, or one month or one year. The poverty reduction is the core of the Royal Government’s policy and is a topic which draws global attention. Therefore, may I appeal to all international partners of Cambodia and NGOs, senior officials and officials in all ministries/institutions, military forces, local authorities at all levels and all citizens to render all forms of support and to cooperate with the Council for Social Development and to actively participate in implementing this strategy. The Royal Government considers the NPRS as a blueprint for donors, coordinators to adjust their policy and cooperation activities in their support for Cambodia. It is clear that, the NPRS is not the only way to mobilize development assistance for supporting the national budget. Cambodia has been taking flexible approach in mobilizing international assistance, adding to project-based approach and program-based approach. All these approaches have to be under the framework of the NPRS.
Before I conclude, I would like to sincerely thank once again to the World Bank, IMF, UN agencies namely, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and UNESCO, GTZ of Germany and other donor partners who provided support for the formulation of the NPRS. I would like also to express my sincere appreciation to H.E. Mr. Chhay Than, Minister of the Ministry of Planning, and all staff of the Council for Social Development, working groups on NPRS formulation, working groups on social development in ministries/institutions, Supreme National Economic Council, civil society, private sector, national and international organizations that actively participated in the formulation of the NPRS. I hope that Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen will continue this close cooperation with the Royal Government in the process of the implementation of this important strategy.
I wish a great success and effectiveness to the process of the implementation of this important strategy. May I declare the official launching to the Cambodia’s NPRS from now on.