Asia is suffering from a deficit of governance, public management and rule of law, in large part due to corruption, a senior Asian Development Bank official said, urging institutional capacity building for countries like Cambodia to climb out of poverty.
“Our advice to the government is to continue the momentum of institution-building,” said Rajat Nag, managing director-general of the ADB, in an exclusive interview with VOA last week. “We recognize that these take time. We recognize that it is not only important to have the right laws on the books, but they have to be implemented fairly, and we are working with the government of Cambodia as indeed elsewhere to continue that process.”
Cambodia has spent almost ten years drafting on an anti-corruption law, but it remains unfinished. Efforts are underway meanwhile to help the government set up an anti-corruption body.
“These things are not done overnight,” Nag said. “These things are also, quite frankly, not done in public. I think we should work with the government, and we do talk to them very frankly, but these are done as part of a long-run institutional reform progress which is continuing.”
The ADB believes that investing in health and education is also important and must take place side by side so that Cambodia can bridge the widening gap between the rich and poor.
“In a country like Cambodia, we emphasize very much investment in health and education, but also I think the government needs to look at the issue of rising inequality, rising disparity,” Nag said. “You’ve got people who are doing extremely well and people who are falling below the poverty line and falling through the cracks.”