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Donors Say Corruption Remains a Concern

The World Bank and other donors said this week they share the concerns of corruption and governance, following a report by an environmental watchdog that warns Cambodia could squander its oil and mineral revenues.

Global Witness’ “Country for Sale,” released last week, said much of the revenue from Cambodia’s oil and mineral rights will benefit only a corrupt elite unless donors push for better management of the revenue.

The report accused donors of turning a blind eye to corruption while continuing to provide aid to the country.

“The Bank is working with the government to implement projects that address a number of the concerns raised in the report, by generating demand for good governance, promoting sound public financial management and allocating land for sustainable production and conservation purposes,” according to a World Bank statement.

“Although the Bank has not been directly involved in extractive industries in Cambodia, our dialogue with the Government includes discussion of policy reforms that will help to ensure that any revenues generated through extractive industries benefit the people of Cambodia,” the World Bank said.

The Global Witness report points to “the same political elite that pillaged the country’s timber resources” as having “now gained control of its mineral and petroleum wealth.”

US Embassy spokesman John Johnson said he had not yet read the report, but said in general the US was “engaging the government of Cambodia, on all levels, on the issue of transparency and corruption.”

The new US ambassador to Cambodia, Carol Rodley, was serious about corruption, he said.

The Asian Development Bank’s Cambodia director, Arjun Goswami, defended the work of the donor agency, saying it gave “significant weight” to governance and anti-corruption.