Excellencies, distinguished representatives of the donor community
Excellencies members of the Royal Government
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great honor and pleasure for me to meet, once again, the distinguished representatives of the donor community. I wish to take this opportunity to extend our warm welcome to Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, representatives of the donor community and our development partners, who have attended this important meeting. This reflects the goodwill and continued attention given by the donor community to the Royal Government’s efforts to accelerate the reforms with the view to rehabilitating and developing the country, especially to alleviating poverty and pulling the people of Cambodia from the shackles of hunger and poverty.
It is our fifth meeting here to follow up and monitor the implementation of the government’s reform programs by checking our achievements and performance against goals. This exercise is aimed at drawing experience and lessons from what the Royal Government has implemented by highlighting the strengths and weaknesses, the challenges and the success of the reforms so that we can work out new action plans and measures to sustain and accelerate this fruitful momentum. Moreover, this is the first meeting in 2002 between the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) and our development partners to do a joint stocktaking and consultation. Thereafter, the RGC will host another consultative meeting, the bi-annual “Government-Private Sector Forum”, with the private sector on 11 February 2002. As you are aware, the government organized recently a forum to disseminate the Governance Action Plan (GAP) and the public administration reform program with the participation of senior government officials coming from the four corners of Cambodia so that the important message of reforms get across and supported by concrete actions nation-wide. This conference aims to entrench the momentum and the achievements of the reforms and, especially to strengthen the national consensus on our resolute move towards peace, social order, democracy, the respect for human rights and good governance, accelerate sustainable and equitable economic development and promote rapid reduction of poverty.
It is our conviction that maintaining sustainability of the reform momentum is key to pulling Cambodia from the vicious circle of poverty and restoring the dignity of a once strong and proud nation to get back its place. Therefore, the RGC has reaffirmed its commitment in pursuing and accelerating the reforms regardless of difficulties and challenges, which include the successive floods during the last two years, the regional economic turmoil and current global economy, caused by the financial crisis and the recent international terrorism.
In this sense, I believe that today’s meeting will give us rare opportunity to make a joint stock-taking of the performance and the tremendous efforts deployed by the RGC during the past year. In this spirit, at this one-day meeting my government colleagues and myself will be here to listen to your discussions and opinion. We will highly appreciate and consider scrupulously your recommendations and suggestions.
Today we will discuss 6 topics relating to important reforms undertaken by the government and the cooperation between Cambodia and its development partners. The presentation on “Administrative reforms and Anti-corruption” will be delivered by H.E. Sok An, Senior Minister, Minister for the Council of Ministers. H.E. Keat Chhon, Senior Minister, Minister of Economy and Finance, will address the issues of “Fiscal Reforms and the Implementation of the 1995 Governmental Decree on Public Procurement”. This presentation will be followed by a statement on “Legal Reform” to be made by H.E. Dith Munty, President of the Supreme Court and Chair of the Council for Legal and Judicial Reform. H.E. Sok An, Senior Minister, Minister for the Council of Ministers, will deliver another presentation on “Military Demobilization”. H.E. Chan Sarun, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, will make a presentation on “The Management of Natural Resources: Forests and Fisheries”. H.E. Chhay Than, Minister of Planning and Chair of the Council for Social Development, will touch upon the “Social Development: Poverty Reduction Strategy and Government Social Spending.”
I am aware of the concerns expressed by a number of the donors because not all sectoral government-donor working groups have worked well. We need to think about the improvement of our consultation and monitoring mechanism. In this context, I wish to inform you that the government has selected as the focal point the “Supreme Council for State Reforms” and use the Office of Council of Ministers as its secretariat in order to prepare progress reports on the implementation of government reform programs in all sectors between the CG meetings. In this regard, I propose to the donor community based in Cambodia to establish a core group, whose members are drawn from representatives of international organizations and Ambassadors of important donor countries, to be the counterparts of the Supreme Council for State Reform. This will ensure a joint follow-up on the progress of the reforms between the bi-annual meetings on top of the sectoral working groups. In this context, all working groups have to report to the Supreme Council for State Reform on a regular basis, so that a progress report can be prepared for the Prime Minister. At the same time, the Donor Core Group will follow up the reforms in general in conjunction with the Supreme Council for State Reform and can seek an appointment with the Prime Minister if needed.
As I have stated on many occasions, the Royal Government does not consider the monitoring of the reform program implementation and constructive criticism, as well as donors’ opinion and recommendations as conditionalities. By contrast, I urge my government’s colleagues here and our external partners to continue the tradition of close partnership and discuss issues and challenges facing the reforms in a candid and frank manner. We welcome these good suggestions and opinion and consider them as concerns of the development partners about the difficulties, performance and achievements of the other partners. Like before, my colleagues and I here are happy to answer your questions and provide comments on any issue you want an additional clarification.
I take this opportunity to express our deep and sincere gratitude to you all for your efforts to cooperate with us in re-directing and moving Cambodia towards a bright future through poverty reduction and sustainable development. I highly appreciate the ADB for assisting us in the preparation of a report entitled “Participatory Poverty Assessment: Cambodia” that has been disseminated to me and members of the Royal Government. I wish a successful conclusion of today’s consultative meeting.