Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, it is my great honor to be invited as a participant of the national seminar on capacity development. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my sincere thanks to H.E. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister, who initiate such an beneficial idea for administrative reform in order to seek the consensus on a broad concept on institutional and civil servant capacity development. This will help the civil servants fulfill their work with high responsibility, efficiency and professionalism.
Today, I would like to take the opportunity to talk about State Reform in general and particularly the Administrative Reforms that are at the heart of the Royal Government strategy for sustainable development, social justice and poverty reduction. First, I would like to outline the context of our reforms. Doing so, I will sketch for you the progress that has been made in a mere ten years since the formation of the first Royal Government following the Paris Accords. Moving to capacity development and the development of human resources within the Administration, I will then outline elements of vision to develop human resources, our most important of assets. To conclude, I will outline a few priorities that I hope will help guide your discussion to identify key elements of the Master Plan to Develop Human Resources within the Administration.
The Cambodian context
I need not spend too much time on the context within which Cambodia must strive to meet its objectives as a society: globalization and the fierce competition for investments in productive capacity and for markets four our goods and services. Our economic growth and thus our well-being as a nation depend on trade and investments. In turn these depend on a few prerequisites: good public governance, effective institutions and capable civil servants. The Royal Government makes every effort to meet these prerequisites but it cannot do it alone. Our success as a country will depend on whether government, the private sector, the civil society, development partners and each and every one of us work together for a better Cambodia.
Cambodia is now at a “crossroad” in a tremendous bumpy road toward sustainable development and poverty reduction. For a decade, Cambodia has been in full peace, security, social order, prosperity, cooperation and progress, these have been made by our scarification and oriented willingness. Moreover, we have worked well to stabilize macroeconomic, to deepen economic liberalization for development of national economy and to promote strong basis for economic growth. Also, governmental institutions, democracy, human rights and human dignities, growth of civil society and effective role of mass media have been strengthened and deeply rooted into the society.
Even though, there are common favorable conditions of progresses and effort for the last few years of reform, the poverty level is still high. The main factors of such situation are because of narrow based economic growth which mainly relies on garment and tourism. In this sense, the government promote to another level of development in agricultural and agro-industry sector aiming at broadening growth basis of the economy to be resistance to external shock. The RGC set high priority on irrigation network and public investment. We have huge of works remains to be done for addressing all coming challenges in order to broaden growth basis.
The most important is that we are in an inauspicious time in term of transformation regional and world connection since the occurrence of Asian financial crisis. At the same time, the changing prospect of far-east Asia economies becomes uncertain due to world terrorist threat and increases in oil price which will further trouble Cambodia development.
To meet these challenges, government must reform. We have no better choices. As a country, we shall uphold principles of good governance. We shall reform our institutions to meet current and foreseeable needs. The Administration shall transform itself to serve people better. But institutions cannot accomplish much by themselves. It is the men and women that make change happen through hard work.
It is only through the changes envisaged in the Rectangular Strategy that is fundamental of domestic and international policies and hopes that our young people, the new generation, could grow in a Cambodia where it is good to live and where one could realize his or her full potential.
The journey to date has been arduous, yet, much has been achieved.
In the last ten years, Cambodia has made significant progress at reforming the State. Please allow me to briefly illustrate.
First, Cambodia have passed through a major milestone from a point in the world map show uncertainty, unrest, war, internal conflict, instability and slow progress to be a country with full peace, security, prosperity, cooperation and progress. Along the process, Cambodia has been rooted by democracy, human rights respect and human dignity;
Second, we have maintained macro-economic stability which macroeconomic indicators were improved from year to year even though under the consequence of natural disaster and economic condition as well as unfavorable regional and world conditions; and
Third, we restored national dignity and proud to be a country with full independence, real freedom and self-determine state as well as to be a real and equal partner in regional and the world communities.
These are but a handful of very significant achievements in a mere ten years. But much more needs to be done. We have only begun our journey.
By the end of the last mandate:
At the end of second legislature of national assembly, we have attained following achievements in public sector:
– The Administration was unified, core management systems established and innovative tools of reforms had been developed;
– Following the successful elections of commune councils in July 2002, work is underway to further decentralize and deconcentrate public functions to bring government closer to the people;
– Building on work done to deepen public financial reform particularly focusing on four phases of development to build a trusted budgeting system which is accountability, efficiency, and budget that based on policy agenda and strategies of government;
– The country’s legal framework is gradually being completed with the Civil Code and the Penal Code and their respective procedures being finalized for implementation. The capacity of the legal and judicial sector is being developed and mechanisms to ensure the independence, effectiveness and discipline in the Judiciary are being strengthened;
– The legal framework and enforcement mechanism to bring about the rule of law for investment, commerce and business is a top priority for Cambodia in order to take advantage of Cambodia’s accession to the WTO;
– With the implementation of initiatives in the Governance Action Plan, root causes of corruption are being mitigated. The Royal Government has now declared war against corruption. The legal framework and enforcement mechanisms are being readied for implementation later this year.
– The armed forces are undergoing fundamental change to support development better and important resources are reallocated to human development in health and education, in particular;
– With the successful implementation of the early steps of a strategy to improve gender equity and reduce violence, attention has turned to strengthening related institutions and improving awareness;
– A land law was promulgated, widespread programs to register land titles are underway but more needs to be done to optimize the use of land for the sustainable development of the country; and
– Community base mechanisms for fisheries and forestry management are being reinforced and tools were deployed to facilitate the sustained used of natural resources.
We are now pushing ahead with the broadening and deepening of the reforms in every area of the Rectangular Strategy.
Human resources are the most important
Does a civil servant have enough capacity to work well in his/her job? Do they are relative and effective partners for national development and efficiently providing services? Each and every citizen is a national builder. It is clear that leadership, discipline, willingness and cooperation are necessary condition to ensure success. Therefore, human resources development both in public and private sector is our immediate works. In this sense, the RGC recognizes that challenges in training human to be high skill, knowledgeable and know-how, so that Cambodia is able to compete with the world that quickly evolves in the globalization course and non-frontier competition. The RGC believes that well-performance economic entails with well and efficient training, utilizing and managing human resources. In the same token, the RGC has put tremendous effort to establish a favorable condition for development and management human resources.
Taking this opportunity, would like to highlight six principles which are the core of our strategy and approach and I think we should not overtook:
First, national reconciliation, nurturing peace, security and political stability are preconditions to meeting our societal objectives of sustainable development, social justice and poverty reduction.
Second, the vision and the reforms must be clearly anchored in our reality and specificity and they must be implemented through positive partnerships that involve all stakeholders private sector, the civil society and, in the case of Cambodia, development partners.
Third, developing the capacity of our institutions and of public servants is an early key to success. It is essential to marshal the country’s resources towards the common good in synergy with stakeholder while avoiding duplication, overlap and parallel structures. Foremost, it is essential to assuming ownership and the leadership of our future.
Fourth, Cambodia must leapfrog into the future drawing on the experience and best practices of others. Success will depend on how innovative we are at adding value. Governments can not be satisfied with doing better with available resources. In today’s context, they must continuously re-invent themselves to be of value to their own citizens and to the community of nations.
Fifth, reforms such as those underway in Cambodia entail risks that must be managed. Reforming is more art than science. It is the art of the practical that is sustainable. Governments must carefully balance boldness and prudence. This is particularly true for countries that are in post conflict situation and that, at the same time, are transforming themselves into pluralist democracies and market economies.
Sixth, innovation takes many forms. ICT holds such promises as we all know. But we cannot forget the human dimension. Changing behavior and practices could often be determinant at transforming a society. Cambodia is winning the peace because of the win-win strategy at national reconciliation and because our government has adopted practices of inclusion, active participation and transparency.
There is so much that we need to do if we truly want the next generation to have a strong base to take Cambodia where it should be. We need democracy, peace, security, stability, territorial integrity and sustainable and equitable growth. We need to develop our country as set out in the Rectangular Strategy. We need to meet the Millennium Development Goals our country committed to at the United Nations.
The key to success is improving governance
As I often say, good governance is the scaffolding of development. Improving governance within our country is essential to sustain the course of our actions and to reduce poverty among our people. Indeed, the quest for good governance is not new to Cambodia. In the last ten years, our pace has steadily accelerated. Peace, stability and security were restored in all parts of the Kingdom. Core institutions of the State were rebuilt, others were strengthened. Reforms were widened and deepened in every sector: democratization and local governance, fiscal, banking, administration, legal and judicial, gender equity, military, land, forestry and fisheries reforms so on and so forth.
Along with the Legislative and Judiciary branches of the State, the Executive must become a trusted and effective partner in the development of our country. Our focus shall be on marshaling public investment and improving the quality and delivery of public services. Quality public services are to be provided where and when required. This means that the Administration must transform itself into an effective provider of public services on a very broad front. The way we work or think must shift from that of administrators of rules to that of providers of services. The State must be closer to the people, be more transparent and be tuned-in to people needs. In short, the State must adopt a client focus much like successful private firms do.
Enhancing governance is an ongoing process whether in the public sector, the private sector or the civil society. At the last meeting with the private sector, I urge them to adopt the pursuit of good governance as one of their immediate priorities. Yet, for Cambodia, it is urgent to accelerate the pace and to widen and deepen our reforms. For that, like many other countries, we need to take advantage of all possible synergies.
The critical role of capacity development
Another important task for us that I would emphasis on here is the building of people and institutions’ capacity within the Administration which is rightfully a core strategy of the National Program for Administrative Reform.
There are few instruments that the Royal Government has to develop and meet its societal objectives. The Administration is one of them. In this sense, we shall invest wisely in an effective Administration in order to develop a culturally vibrant and highly educated human capital with knowledge, know-how and creativity to perform their tasks effectively. To meet this objective, it is clear that we shall advancing our efforts in developing human capacity through a better coordinated training, and make it responsive to needs. Thus, your tasks in the next two days is to come up with how best to achieve all that but focusing on the development of human resources. It is work of a tall order. You have all my best wishes. In some ways you will help set the course for this generation of civil servants and the leg they will leave for the next generation.
So please allow me to make a few observations about developing the capacity of the Administration. We all indeed realize that people can make the difference and they accomplish things. This will require important transformation in the attitudes and behavior of civil servants.
Indeed, when credible and respected, institutions facilitate achieving good results and sustain them. Thus, it is important that institutions within the Administration shall learn to work together in partnerships and avoid overlap and unnecessary competition.
Capacity is also about discipline and the observance of rules, procedures and practices in the management of human resources and the structuring of organizations.
When it comes to developing individuals to become effective members of teams, results are never assured. Training in particular is an essential and risky investment that requires careful monitoring and coordination. And, it must be appropriate to what Cambodia needs.
Moreover, capacity investments and their sequencing must be aligned to government priorities. The first of these priorities are the reforms that are so essential to our common future. In many ways, we will be re-inventing the Administration. The road will be long and arduous. Risks will abound. The journey will require perseverance, determination and discipline. It will require our individual and collective commitment. Responsibility for developing the workforce is shared among institutions, work units and managers. It is also the responsibility of the individual. Developing capacity necessarily go through an effective back office to support operations and service delivery.
However, there are only few choices that we can make. Others, our development partners must also change if Cambodia is to take full advantage of ODA in general and technical assistance in particular. Courageous efforts are underway to harmonize practices and better align assistance to government priorities. They must stop dysfunctional practices that distort the labor market.
I would not go on but I think you are aware of the issue that I wanted to say! I am pleased to see that progress is being made in solving the problem, following a study by the UNDP that found a dismal state of affairs under the guise of developing capacity. Fortunes are being squandered on capacity development with little to show for. Work that has been going on within the government and with development partners during the last year holds much promise. Reforming technical assistance to support capacity development better is an early priority to enhance value.
We need to do more and better with what we have. Thus, it is our top priority to urgently review our partnerships arrangements with development partners and to develop rapidly the capacity of the State to plan and manage the country’s development. We must use all possible tools to acquire and use skills and knowledge as other countries in the region and the world do. For Cambodia, we need to have a clear strategy and program to develop human resources.
The development of a Master Plan to Develop Human Resources is an important first step. It will provide guidance to the many programs in place or being planned.
The plan shall include a management framework that would assign clear responsibilities and authorities to the various actors. It shall provide specifications and standards for HRD services, delivery processes and accountabilities. It shall specify the rights and obligations of civil servants when it comes to development and career progression. We must recognize that capacity development and HRD shall be managed as risky long-term investments that must be monitored closely.
The needs are daunting and the means are scarce. Yet, Cambodia has traveled vast distances in a mere ten years to put itself firmly on the path of progress and the realization of its potential. The road ahead will be challenging and the Royal Government will spare no efforts to accelerate the pace of reforms. The timing, sequencing and resourcing of actions will determine success. Therefore, our cooperation with international development partners, private sector and civil society will be vital to continuing success. Together, we shall not waste this historic opportunity.
Some weeks ago, an eminent economist with the United Nations said that ODA to Cambodia needs to double. I say we should get as much as possible but, foremost, we need to do much better with the one we already have. It is yet another reason why we need to develop our capacity. In closing, may I wish you all, the participants of this seminar, the five gems of Buddhist blessings. Now, I would declare the opening of this National Seminar on Capacity Development.