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Opening Address by gabyion

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									                                   Opening Address
                                               by

                          Sr. Minister KEAT CHHON
                       Minister of Economy and Finance

                                            At the
          Joint Royal Government of Cambodia, World Bank,
                   ADB, DFID and UN Conference to
            Launch the National Poverty Assessment 2006

                     Intercontinental Hotel, 16 February 2006


-      Samdech Prime Minister,
-      Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

1.   Today, we are most honored to have Samdech Prime Minister
Hun Sen here among us to deliver a keynote address to this joint
conference to launch Cambodia Poverty Assessment 2006.

2.     Allow me first to extend my best wishes and warmest welcome to
Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen. I would like also to welcome and
thank Colleagues in the Royal Government, the Ambassadors and
Representatives of the bilateral and multilateral development community,
civil society and private sector for their participation in this conference. I
highly appreciate the World Bank, ADB, DFID and the UN for their
collaboration with the Government in organizing this conference. My
special thanks would also go to the team (the WB and Cambodian
Researchers) for their efforts in terms of time and wisdom exerted in the
preparation of this first comprehensive Cambodia Poverty Assessment. I
would like also to thank to Supreme National Economic Council for
its substantial contribution in reviewing and making comments to this
paper.


Senior Minister Keat Chhon’s Remarks at the Launching of Poverty Assessment 2006, 16 Feb 2006   1
3.     The Royal Government of Cambodia has always committed to
poverty reduction. Poverty reduction is the core at every development
policies and strategies of the Royal Government. The Rectangular
Strategy, initiated by Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen, specifically
targets economic growth, full employment for Cambodian people, and
equitable distribution of fruits of growth thus ensuring social justice, and
strengthened efficiency of the public sector through the implementation
of various in-depth and well-coordinated reform programmes.

4.    This joint conference will further discuss the findings of the report
and will try to explore innovative ways forward especially in setting the
agenda toward 2015 for the strong partnership in reaching the Cambodia
Millennium Development Goals (CMDGs).

5.    Cambodia has made impressive strides over the past decade in
keeping the macroeconomic sustainability. The 7 percent growth in 2005
is beyond our expectation, given the ending of Multi-Fiber Agreement
system and severe external shocks, such as a record high oil price and
epidemic diseases. During the last decade, the annual average of
economic growth amounts to over 7% at constant price, while the per
capita income growth was 4½ percent per annum at constant price.

6.    Fiscal performance in 2005 was good, with both improved revenue
mobilization and expenditure rationalization. Domestic revenue in 2005
reached 11.7 percent of GDP, compared to 7.6 percent in 1995. Tax
revenue increased from 5.3 percent of GDP in 1995 to 8.7 percent 2005.

7. As for our public finance policy, we have focused on tightened
expenditure,      budget     discipline, and  systematic    expenditure
rationalization. The 2005 Budget has been implemented with extreme
prudence and caution to make room for priority spending: education,
health, civil service reform and the overhaul of physical infrastructure
including the irrigation systems.

8.    The growth will also benefit from the various reforms being
decisively implemented by the Royal Government. Those include Public
Financial Management Reform, Financial Sector Development
and Private Sector Development particularly through the
improvement in business environment and investment climate, trade



Senior Minister Keat Chhon’s Remarks at the Launching of Poverty Assessment 2006, 16 Feb 2006   2
facilitation and SMEs development, as well as Land Management
Reform, Administrative Reform, and Legal and Judicial Reform.

9.    Moreover, the Royal Government attaches great importance on
human resource development. We give top priority to social spending,
which has been witnessed by steady increase in the sector allocation.
Our focus on education has resulted in more schools and well-trained
teachers, lower direct costs to households, and increasing primary
enrolment rates. Moreover, significant progress has been also achieved
in the health sector. Key health indices have shown steady improvement
but they are still lagging in some areas and exceed those in neighboring
countries, such as those on child malnutrition and maternal mortality.

10. Under the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative, the IMF Executive
Board approved in December 2005 debt relief for Cambodia. As part of
the Initiative, the IMF will provide 100 percent of debt relief on all debt
incurred by Cambodia to the IMF before January, 2005 amounting to
US$82 million. I wish to emphasis that Cambodia is qualified for IMF
debt relief because of her recent overall satisfactory macroeconomic
performance, progress in poverty reduction, and improvements in public
expenditure management. The Royal Government will use the saving
from this debt relief to finance public investment projects targeting the
poverty reduction in Cambodia, as stated in the National Strategic
Development Plan adopted on 27 January 2006.

Samdech Prime Minister,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

11. On the road of growth and poverty reduction, Cambodia is facing
tremendous challenges. The Royal Government has exerted its utmost
efforts and is determined to overcome all these constraints. As a result,
the following positive developments can be observed:

   1.   The economic diversification through the development of
        agriculture, agro-business and investments in irrigation has
        delivered results reflecting in higher agriculture growth.

   2.   In recent years, we have made sustained efforts to bring together
        all the stakeholders and harmonize their activities in every sector
        under the Ministry-led sector-wide strategies, and the works have
        also begun to deliver results.


Senior Minister Keat Chhon’s Remarks at the Launching of Poverty Assessment 2006, 16 Feb 2006   3
   3.   The Government has now embarked on an ambitious but feasible
        program of public financial management (PFM) reform, tackling
        some of the binding constraints on improving service delivery.

   4.   Similarly, the Royal Government is committed to reforming the
        institutions and procedures for trade facilitation including single
        administrative documents, risks management, and “one-stop-
        service” operation, creating the environment facilitating businesses
        and investments.

   5.   Cambodian NGOs are becoming increasingly capable and
        sophisticated as contributors to national development, both as
        partners in service delivery and as institutions for channeling ideas
        to policy makers.

   6.   “Cooperation community” is now working on harmonization and
        realignment of their programmes to meet Cambodia’s needs, while
        facilitating Cambodia ownership over her own development and
        reform efforts.

   7.   Finally, the Royal Government has now in its disposal the National
        Strategic Development Plan which lays out an integrated,
        strategic approach to achieving the MDGs.

12. The recent political developments underlie our robust optimism in
the continuing socio-economic progress of Cambodia. The achievements
were possible thanks to the strong confidence and commitment of the
Royal Government to its development partners including the Private
Sector, Cooperation Community, and NGOs. The participatory approach
that the Royal Government has adopted has proved to be a winning
approach which we will continue to pursue in the future.

13. Finally, the conference will listen to the Keynote Address by Samdech
Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia!

Thank you!




Senior Minister Keat Chhon’s Remarks at the Launching of Poverty Assessment 2006, 16 Feb 2006   4

								
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