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In Donor Meeting, Hun Sen Vows Deeper Reforms

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday moved to assure international representatives and aid agencies he was committed to deepening government reforms and fighting corruption, as an annual donor meeting got underway.

Speaking at the opening of the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum, where donors are expected to pledge more than $1 billion in aid to Cambodia, Hun Sen said the government had made the “utmost efforts to firmly and deeply implement various reform programs and consider them as life or death issues.”

The government will present a $6.2 billion development plan to donors this week, part of an updated five-year strategy for continued reform and poverty alleviation. More than 100 participants from donor countries and international aid groups such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund joined senior government ministers for two days of talks.

“The Royal Government considers the fight against corruption as a top priority during its fourth mandate,” Hun Sen said in a speech that lasted more than an hour. “We have a strong will for implementing these reforms.”

Speaking on behalf of the donors, Annette Dixon, the World Bank’s country director, said meetings would center around “key reforms, which the government is undertaking, particularly in decentralization, public financial management and reforms of the civil service.”

“Further strengthening transparency and accountability in the management of Cambodia’s public finances and natural resources will be fundamental for ensuring more sustainable and inclusive growth,” Dixon said, adding that the government had made important achievements in passing an anti-corruption law and updated penal code.

Critics of the anti-corruption law have said it lacks the teeth to root out the country’s endemic corruption.