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Donors Asked to Review Its Policy

NGOs workers meet in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
NGOs workers meet in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Cambodia's donors and the government will meet this week amidst calls from civil society advocates and the opposition party for better management of natural resources and the national budget.

The donor meeting Wednesday and Thursday will focus on the government’s national development plan, which is expected to cost $6.2 billion over the next five years.

“The Cambodian government has been promising to reform for years, but nothing had changed," said Gavin Hayman, Global Witness campaigns director, in a statement issued one day ahead of the meeting.

"Our latest report shows that political elite has no intention of loosening its stranglehold over the country's natural resource wealth. Donors simply cannot continue to turn a blind eye," he said.

Global Witness also revealed a series of what it called "high level corruption and governance failure" over the last 18 months. These include multi-million dollar payment from French oil giant Total to the government's "social funds", land grabbing from the poor, controversial anti-corruption law, and sand export by two CPP senator-tycoons.

The move was, however, rebuked by the Cambodian embassy to the UK calling the environment watchdog “naïve” to imagine that the donors would believe them.

The opposition Sam Rainsy Party also called in advance of the annual meeting for donors to focus on good governance, improving electoral system which enables access for all voters, increasing health service for the poor, reducing agricultural production cost, improving education system for rural people, and better management of state revenue.

“The opposition party's recommendations now are on the government implementation of its plan which has so far been written well, but requires good implementation," said Yim Sovann, spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party. "If there is no real implementation, the plan will become useless."

Last year, donors pledged nearly one billion dollars to the Cambodian government.

"In general, we will highlight how we implemented the macro-economic in the past year which turned out to be good and even received praise from our development partners," Hang Chuon Naron, secretary general of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, told VOA Khmer by phone on Monday.

In past years, donors have urged the government to pay attention to good governance, reducing corruption, and transparent management of forest resources.