Cambodia gets nearly US$2 billion from donors

Cambodia launched its bid for nearly US$2 billion ( Ђ 1.67 billion) in development aid for the next three years from international donors at a two-day meeting that opened Thursday.

A government document distributed at the meeting said Cambodia needs US$1.975 billion ( Ђ 1.65 billion) for implementing 617 development projects from 2006 to 2008.

Cambodian Finance Minister Keat Chhon told reporters he was optimistic donors would respond favorably to his government's request.

But Ian Porter, a World Bank representative co-chairing the meeting with Keat Chhon, called on the government to do more in implementing its pledges of reform, including legislation to fight corruption.

Porter said an anti-corruption law should be enacted within the next six months, noting that 15 months have already elapsed since the last donor meeting in 2004 when the government pledged to introduce such legislation.

"Although passage of this law is urgent, it is important that urgency does not lead to acceptance of a poor quality law," he said, adding that the legislation must meet international standards.

An anti-corruption body that is "independent, empowered and effective" must be set up along with an action plan for combating corruption, Porter said.

Domestic and international organizations have urged donors to pressure Cambodia to live up to its promises.

Donors have supplied the Cambodian government with hundreds of millions of dollars annually and asked for promises and action on good governance, the rule of law, judicial reform, corruption and the proper management of natural resources.

Donors are expected to announce their financial pledges Friday, reports the AP.


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