World Bank: Time to move to next level of development

Posted by khmernews on August 15, 2007

Development Weekly
#155, August 13-19, 2007

World Bank (WB) President Robert Zoellick on August 6 declared that now is the time for Cambodia to take tough decisions on corruption, governance and economic outlook, in order to successfully compete in the region and the world, reported newspapers.

Arriving for two days on August 5, the WB president’s whirlwind visit took him on tours of a garment factory, a small business benefiting from microfinance, a land-titling ceremony and meetings with donors, finance advisors and Prime Minister Hun Sen, according to a WB statement, The Commercial News reported.

“The World Bank has worked with Cambodia since the early 1990s, and together we have come a long way. Now Cambodia faces the challenge of moving to the next level of development,” Zoellick said after his meeting with the premier.

The nation’s economy is sound, Zoellick told advisors to Hun Sen at a Supreme National Economic Council meeting; with strong growth, achievements in poverty reduction and an improved approach to public finances all achieved in the last decade.

He told the prime minister that Cambodia need to ease business procedures, ensure natural resources are managed with transparence, and improve governance and economic equality. He also emphasized during his meetings that revenues from recently discovered oil and gas reserves need to be managed wisely, “for the common good of all Cambodians.”

“We want to work with the Government to do more in this area. Better management of government revenues and spending makes it more likely the people will receive better public services, Central to this will be redoubling efforts to improve governance, fight corruption, and improve the quality of the legal system,” he added at the meeting.

High labor standards in Cambodia’s pillar garment industry, worth US$2.5 billion in 2006, have proved to be a unique selling point, said Zoellick during a visit to a garment factory. He added that the same standards must be applied to all sectors, so that “Cambodia can develop an international brand fro socially responsible production, resource development and tourism.”

Hang Chuon Naron, secretary general for the MInistry of Finance, said he agreed that better legal mechanisms could improve the investment climate. “It’s not just anti-corruption, but service delivery …having transparent and efficient management [to] streamline procedures,” he told the Cambodia Daily.

The WB president lauded the impact of microfinance in Cambodia while visiting a small business established with credit from microfinance institution Acleda Bank, a partner of the WB’s private sector arm the international Finance Cooperation. The WB statement claims Acleda’s banking services have reached a fifth of the nation’s households, or 181,000 people through 166 branches in all 24 provinces.
Presiding over a land-titling ceremony organized through the WB-finance Land Management and Administration project, Zoellick oversaw the handover of nearly 800 land-titles to new owners. “From your land titles, you feel safe for your land, you can borrow money from banks to build your houses, or you can leave it for the next generation, “he added, reported Xinhua August 5.

During his meeting with donors, the WB president said too much “fragmentation and waste” remains in aid harmonization and effectiveness, instead of aid efforts being focused on small unconnected projects, common programs need to be developed. He emphasized that the WB will not tolerate corruption: “We are also committed to doing all we can to ensure the money we provide is used only for the intended purposes.”

“Cambodia is a small country – it needs to be distinctive to get on the map,” Zoellick told a press conference in Phnom Penh.


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