Your Venerable Monks,
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished national and international guests,
Dear Compatriots, Teachers, and Student!
Today, it is my great pleasure to come to Sihanouk Ville once again to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the KOH PUOS Bridge, which is located in Village III, Sangkat III, Khan Mittepheap. In this cheerful event, I would like congratulate elders and those people residing in this region who are about to receive another new valuable product, namely a sea-crossing bridge, the investment project of KOH PUOS Cambodia Investment Group Co., Ltd., a Cambodia-based company.
At the same time, I would like to extend my warmest welcome to Mr. Chepa Alexey, Chairman of the Board of Director of Vironia Enterprise Limited that has made a substantial investment in Cambodia. This event sends a clear message to investors worldwide that Cambodia is being developed and opened to all foreign investments.
Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to express my high appreciation for the efforts made by the CDC, the Ministry of Public Work and Transport, and all related institutions that have pushed this investment project to emerge as a new hope and to be a new proof of private sector participation in the development of infrastructure which is the main engine of economic growth in Cambodia. Furthermore, we also expect that the construction project of KOH PUOS Bridge, which is the basic annex of the overall Koh PUOS development project, will become the leading tourism centre in Sihanouk Ville and potentially in the region in the near future.
Recently, Sihanouk Ville has been considered as the core of the economic corridor development project because it possesses unique economic conditions while other southwestern provinces have been regarded as the supply base of various raw materials, and the National Road No. 4 will act as the vital backbone. Through this, the RGC has restored a number of transport network to link with the Dragon Head Zone in Koh Kong such as the restoration of the National Road No. 48 from Koh Hong to Sre Ambil, National Road No. 3 from Kampot to Veal Reinh, National Road No. 2 from Cambodia-Vietnam Border to the National Road No. 3, and the restoration of both railways from Phnom Penh to Poy Pet, and from Phnom Penh to Sihanouk Ville.
As a result, the Royal Government of the Third Legislature of the National Assembly has pushed for the restoration and construction of important national roads in the northern, northeastern, eastern and central regions across the country by having accomplished the restoration of 895 kilometers long of national roads while the additional 1,015 kilometers long of national roads is being restored and expected to complete in the next term of the government. These achievements stem from the concrete determination and efforts of the RGC in implementing its national development programs.
Along with this, I would like to reiterate that the RGC has a very high and committed political willingness to establish special economic zones in the Dragon Head Zone such as the RGC’s enhancement of the loading and unloading capacity of the Autonomous Sihanouk Port through the expansion of the port, container warehouse and multi-purpose space, strengthening of the Single Window Service, and the establishment of export processing zones. Moreover, each special economic zone requires necessary supporting services such as a high standard housing complex to accommodate investors, tourists, and foreign experts. This development work does not only support the production and trade sectors but it also supports the tourism sector.
The bridge, which is the subject of today’s groundbreaking ceremony, is the first bridge in Cambodia ever built on land and across the sea to an island and also a part of the KOH PUOS development project to transform this island into the leading tourism centre in Sihanouk Ville. According to the report of H.E. Sun Chan Thol, Minister of Public Work and Transport, this bridge is 900 meters long, 12 meters wide, 32.5 meters above the sea level, and requires the investment capital of 20 million Euros. The construction of this bridge is expected to take 30 months and complete by the end of 2010.
Although this bridge is the annex of the Koh Puos investment project it will serve the public interest as well as be the new proud image of Sihanouk Ville and Cambodia as a whole. Even though Cambodia has a strong foundation for tourism in the coastal areas including magnificent beach of 400 Km long stretching from Koh Kong, Sihanouk Ville and Kampot Province to Kep, with crystal clear water, nice beaches, green mangrove forests and many islands, the Coastal tourism in Cambodia is still making slow progress, compared to the neighboring countries due to the fact that even though these areas do have substantial potentials they have not been well developed to attract the world tourists, which are increasing considerably from day to day. That is why we could say that the coastal areas in Cambodia are the uncut diamonds, however, these areas are currently being upgraded through various investment projects. Through this effort, we are strongly convinced that the various development projects in certain islands of Cambodian sea as well as along the Cambodian costal areas, will purely contribute to the revelation of the magnificent beauty of Cambodian beaches to tourists from different corners of the world.
Presently, Cambodia has restored and improved a large number of physical infrastructures for the foundation of investment such as roads, telecommunication and transportation system, electricity system, stable macroeconomic environment, 2-digit economic growth during the last 4 years, cheaper labor forces…etc. In particular, the strong commitment of the Royal Government in implementing the significant reforms in all sectors makes the investment climate in Cambodia even better.
Along with that, the Royal Government has approved a number of islands investment projects within the ocean boundary of Sihanouk Ville and Koh Kong including: Koh Dekoul and Koh Puos islands, whose investors are both from Russia. Although the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Russian Federal Government have not signed the agreement to promote and protect the investments yet, a number of Russian investors have already made their investments in Cambodia and took the lead in investing on islands.
Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government, I would like to appeal to other investors from Russia to pay a visit to Cambodia to study the possibility of investment in Cambodia, a country rich in many other natural potentials such as natural minerals, cultural resorts, agricultural potentials and magnificent beaches…etc. At the same time, Cambodian investment law also provides favorable conditions which encourage and create administrative facilitation mechanisms for other investment projects in Cambodia.
As I have frequently raised so far that the construction of roads, bridges is a work which is strategic in nature in implementing the pacification policy and the physical integration of Cambodia as well as policies to promote and sustain the economic growth in order to alleviate the poverty of our people. Through this investment project of Koh Puos is expected to create jobs for about 20,000 people to 25, 000 people, which will contribute to the achievement of the strategic objectives, which are to reduce poverty of the people, especially achieving the Millennium Development Goals, set by each nation in halving the poverty by 2015.
In general, this construction project is the annex and the foundation of the Koh Puos development project, which started from the vision to develop the underdeveloped and magnificent coastal areas in Sihanouk Ville to receive new opportunities to attract the abundance of tourists from the cultural center in Siem Reap or tourists from our neighboring countries. Through this vision, we will be able to set up a large tourism package.
As for the aspect of this 3rd mandate, it will be an important crossroad for the Government, who has strived a great deal to overcome the challenges and make many difficult reforms leading to development and prosperity. Recently, Cambodia has been very much influenced by the international factors leading to the sharp increase of inflation in 2008, which Cambodia has never experienced before, including the huge fluctuation in petrol’s prices, increased in demand and hike in food prices, which pose great impact on the people and it is, of course, the worry of the Royal Government.
Even though Cambodia cannot escape from the influence of the international economic crisis Cambodia could still succeed in many socio-economic pillars such as having achieve the annual average economic growth of 11.1% over the last 4 years has maintained the macroeconomic stability with the per capita GDP increasing from 394 USD in 2004 to 589 in 2007, international reserve of approximately 809 millions USD in 2004 increased to 1.6 billions USD, the poverty rate decreased from 35% in 2004 to 31% in 2007, and the food quantity is sufficient for domestic market. Along with that, I would like to call on the leadership, civil servants, all level of local authorities and armed forces, to try your utmost to work hard and save on all sorts of spending either in your family or institutions as well as collecting all means and resources aiming at ensuring Growth, Employment, Equity and Efficiency. In the meantime, we have to actively participate further in various reform programs conducted by the Royal Government in order to join hands to promote economic growth, liberate Cambodia from poverty and put continuous effort (like a drizzling rain) in building the capacity aims at overcoming the challenges and risks to bring about development and prosperity to our nation.
Meanwhile, I would like to appeal to our compatriots, who are living in this area as well as all level of local authorities to provide good cooperation, which is a perfect character of Khmer people, in order to facilitate this bridge’s construction process smoothly and timely as expected.
Before ending, I would like to congratulate the SINO HYDRO Company of the People’s Republic of China, which has been selected as a construction contractor according to its merits trust and many years of experience in the construction of large projects, and who is also constructing the KAMCHAY hydro-power plant. Through this, we hope that this bridge is expected to be built according to the technical standard and is to be completed on time as planned.
In conclusion, along with this Ground Breaking Ceremony of the 900 – meters long Koh Puos Bridge from Hawaii beach to Koh Puos, I would like to wish the Your Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen and all our compatriots, Teachers and Students the 4 Gems of Buddhist Blessing: longevity, nobility, health and strength.