… My wife and I are happy to be with the Vanda Accounting Institute on this joyous occasion of awarding diplomas for 978 graduates. I remember that in October 2005, also in this place, I presided over the graduation, where some of you can be reminded that the ceremony was in a small building. Now it is a reasonably big building that we can house a huge number of participants. I am grateful to the report by Mr. Heng Vanda in relation to the development process of the Vanda Institute Specialized in Auditing, Accounting and Taxation (VISAAT) which has been doing a good job for the last 6 years.
I may note that VISAAT may be the only training institute where there are more female than male students. This is quite obvious when 632 students or two thirds of the 978 students are female. Out of the 1895 students still pursuing their studies, 1,472 students, which means also two third of them are female. It is a gender equality approach in recruitment and also belongs to subject study that it is more applicable to female than male staff.
The subject study covers issues of taxation, accounting and auditing, which is appropriate to female employees. I am grateful and taking the liberty to express my sincere joy with those of you – female students here. I also wish to express my pleasure to the fact that VISAAT has just been provided with the recognition of the National Accreditation Committee (NAC) responding to the effort made by VISAAT in improving the quality of education.
I would like to take this opportune moment to express my congratulations to those of you who have graduated with Bachelor or Master Degrees from VISAAT. It is lucky to be educated and knowledge that you have attained would never be subjected to theft or damages. One could not in every other way feed knowledge into a person unless that person is making own enduring effort. You may learn about what I said in comparison of eggs to be hatched to those of you to be educated persons. I first mentioned this comparison at the presentation of the Hun Sen National Scholarship Awards for Outstanding Students at the University of Cambodia. Professors are compared to hens while you students are eggs to be hatched.
Hens do their job of hatching but in the end there may be some eggs that do not hatch. Professors do their best to teach you, to lead you and to tell you what they know but whether you could get them is another matter. Study in the post graduate level requires research methodology and effort to make. I am so joyous to share with you, your parents and superintendents for your successes today. Gratitude to family is important and what we should do to pay respect to them is by showing that you have done your best in your study.
I wish on this occasion to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to Mr. Heng Vanda for his provision of scholarships to students from resource-lacking families with 94 students – to study here. Sixty scholarships are also provided to HE Deputy Prime Minister Sok An. From my part, my Cabinet is streamlining our criterion of selection of scholarship so that we could select best students for such offer of scholarship.
In the past we have directed our scholarship offer to students from resource-lacking families but we fail to place in a high criterion if they could complete the study with success or not. So I think those among the students from resource-lacking families will have to take a contest exam in order to be awarded a scholarship.
Mr. Heng Vanda has just mentioned in his report that up to now we have reached 29 – the year of liberation from the Pol Pot’s regime and we have also overcome uncountable hardships during this period of time. If we were to include the coup (against Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk) on March 18, 1970 up to the present we have passed a period of 37 years. I am of the opinion that if the coup did not happen, we would not have a ravaging war in this country. If we were to let Cambodia be led by Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, and if we did not have war, Cambodia would not be in such a dilapidated condition as we have seen.
One may recall that Cambodia at that time was an island of peace surrounded by wars in Laos and Vietnam. Cambodia lived in peace from 1954 to 1970 – a span of 16 years. there were no bloodshed and also no Pol Pot. Wars reduced our people to the state of victim. HM the King Samdech Preah Karuna Norodom Sihamoni considers the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) as a younger brother of the Samngkum Reast Niyum (popular socialist community). It is indeed a fact because CPP leads the country’s restoration and reconstruction on the foundation of what has been left and also build new one.
Restoring the country is never easy. We did the job when Phnom Penh lived no human. When we first open the School for Teachers Training, our teachers had to train other teachers in the morning and to teach students in the evening. We also did the night-time teaching. We have done the best we can till we are able to stand up again from ashes which was more serious than those left from the World War II in Europe. The Korean War brought great damages too but they still have human resources while in Cambodia both institutions and human resources were destroyed.
We returned to the country (after the fall of Pol Pot) with bare hands. We did not have currency and had to work and eat together in a common house. We later printed money in 1980. But things have changed completely. We admit that the salary of the armed forces and teachers are not yet high. But in 2005, we have managed for an increase of 15% and another 15% in 2006. We also did that in early 2007 and in the later part of the same year another 10%. This makes it 25% in 2007. In 2008, we have planned for an increase of another 20% and from 2009 onward if CPP is to get re-elected and I continue to be the Prime Minister, I would work for a salary increase of no less than 20% per annum.
A few days ago some politicians said if he were to get elected he would reduce the price of fuel to 3000 Riel per liter. He accused this and that of being communist but he have proven himself to be the one as he set up the price. You all are economists, taxation experts, accountants and auditors you may have a better judgment from what he’d said – what kind of politician and ideology does he belong to? In market economy, there are no impositions in terms of prices by the state. They may resort to other means to prevent the high prices in international market or to provide subsidies as we have been doing so far. Take for instance we have placed import tax of oil at 20% when the price of oil was 25 US dollar per barrel and we continue to set it at 20% … when the price of oil has now gone up.
The price of oil in Cambodia is now high but is still lower than the price of oil in France and the United States. In France, when I passed the country last year, the price was one euro and this is indeed higher than one US dollar. Some even said that if s/he gets elected s/he would increase the salary for teachers to so and so amount. As you all know to reflect the country’s progress is not the reflection by high salary of a few officials but the rate of poverty to be reduced in the whole country. GDP per capita also is not the only indicator that reflects true nature of a country’s socio-economic condition as well.
The Royal Government is making every effort for economic growth in a way that we can bring the poverty rate to lower than 1% per annum. I wonder if you could believe someone who promises that s/he would alleviate poverty rate 100% if elected. I am just a man who humbly contributed in liberating our people from the genocide, preventing the return of the genocide, and dismantling the Pol Pot’s military and political organization through the implementation of the win-win policy, while taking part in the Cambodia’s socio-economic development. I would more than anyone else desire that our people are getting rich with their per capita CGD equal to those of Japanese and Americans. However, we do not yet have that possibility.
We came to the level of 513 US dollars per capita income in 2006. For 2007, there is yet a new evaluation from the National Institute of Statistics. If we compare per capita income to that of 1994, the current level is doubling the figure at that year. We have achieved economic growth 10% in 2004, 13.5% in 2005, 10.6% in 2006 and in 2007, we hope to achieve a good growth because it is the best year of cultivation.
The agricultural cultivation has been favorably implemented because of favorable condition – about 99.57% of plan according to last week figure. Some provinces – despite of its expansion of cultivation area – have finished cultivations though natural predators such as insected inflict serious damages in some places. In general, cultivation has been achieved within a speedy timeframe. That is why we have a strong belief that we would achieve a two-digit growth this year so as to realize our desire to get a two-digit growth for five consecutive years.
We are on a correct path and on this path we would continue to get high scores. For a country or a political party, it is primarily important to have a correct policy because a wrong one would lead to wars and destructions all that matter. The coup in 1970 was a wrong political move which brought about untold hardships that we all have to share on our shoulders. Secondly it is important to have human resources and I mean a systematic availability of human resources, better management and the use of financial resources serving purpose of the country’s development.
We are now approaching the time of empty-promises because within eight or nine months we will be having the elections. I said so because I heard that some politicians cheated the public that in 2008 they would be admitted into the Government. CPP reaffirms that if it is re-elected it will choose only Funcinpec as partner and we do not need other parties to join us… We have launched the formula that all public officials will be recruited through exam. No one is to be rercruited because of political party affiliation anymore.
If they get elected, well they may work alone. Funcinpec now is one with reform and not the one with two tickets – 1) to vote for Samdech Ov (our King-Father) is voting for us and 2) to insist on a two-third majority so as to demand more power. Though the party got 20% of the vote, but with this political tool the power would be enlarged to 40%. Some politicians have launched a campaign already by inviting some to enjoy Num Banh Chok (Khmer noodle) to talk about reducing the price of oil to 3,000 Riel per liter… What is the most important for us now is to maintain political and macro-economic stability, especially peace which is indeed the factor that allows for job creation, which all of you are the ones with potential help to offer…