Remarks by Sr. Minister Keat Chhon, MP Minister of Economy and Finance At the Signing Ceremony for the UK's Budget Support Programme and the Multi-donor Budget Support Partnership Principles Ministry of Economy and Finance, 13 February 2008 H.E. Mr. David Reader, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Cambodia; H.E. Mr. Shinohara Katsuhiro, Ambassador of Japan to Cambodia; H.E. Mr. Rafael Dochao Moreno, Chargé d’Affaires a.i, European Commission; H.E. Ms. Nisha Agrawal, Country Manager, the World Bank; Colleagues of the Royal Government of Cambodia; Distinguished Guests; Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen; Today we gather here for the signing ceremony of two important documents namely: (i) the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the United Kingdom for the UK’s Grant of £ 7.5 million (about US$ 15 million) for the Poverty Reduction and Growth Operation (PRGO), and (ii) the Partnership Principles for the Multi-donor PRGO Programme between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the four external Development partners, namely, the United Kingdom, Japan, the World Bank, and the European Union. It is my great pleasure and honor to represent the Royal Government of Cambodia for the signing of the two documents. PRGO is a multi development partner funded program which aims to support the Royal Government of Cambodia to achieve the goals stated in the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) by focusing on three broad pillars: (1) Public Financial Management, (2) Private Sector Development, and (3) Land and Natural Resource Management. In the framework of PRGO, we have already reached agreement with three development partners, namely the World Bank, European Commission and Japan. Including the UK, the total committed PRGO budget becomes around 70 million USD for the period of 2007- 2010. This budget support and the PRGO Partnership Principles also reflects the increased development partner harmonization and alignment of development partner policy positions and financial support to the Royal Government of Cambodia in pursuance of a more effective and substantive implementation of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. This budget support by the Development Partners will ensure strong and greater ownership and leadership by the Royal Government of Cambodia in the implementation of its own policy and development agenda envisoned in NSDP. Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Let me take this opportunity to recall that the Royal Government of Cambodia has achieved significant economic growth and remarkable progress in poverty reduction. The percentage of people living below the poverty line has declined to 35% in 2004, down from an estimated 47% in 1994. We also believe that there has been further significant reduction during the last three years. The achievements, both in economic growth and poverty reduction, have resulted from the clear policy direction of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and the involvement of various development partners, private sector, civil society, and other stakeholders. We understand that the support for PRGO is a pilot step to test the joint commitment of the recipient and development partners in the context of aid effectiveness by providing financial support through the government system. Therefore, together with the PRGO Partnership Principles which we have just signed, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, on behalf of the Royal Governme nt of Cambodia, would like to strongly reassure its commitment on maximizing the value of money from our development partners’ support and ensuring that spending is directed for the intended purposes , being accountable for the expenditures, and taking every possible measures to prevent fund leakage. We are committed to the effective utilization of all development assisatnce to ensure that the benefits flow to the poor in the country. In conclusion, let me take this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, Cambodian People and my own behalf, to express my sincere gratitude an d heartfelt appreciation to the United Kingdom and British people for their continued generous support and assistance to help develop our Country. My sincere gratitude and thanks are also due to the other development partners for their strong support to strengthen the effort of the Royal Government of Cambodia in reducing poverty of the Cambodian people. Thank You for Your Attention!