Monday, March 30, 2009

Cambodia Receives Financing for Improvement Projects

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed an agreement to provide grant aid and concession loans for development and improvement projects in Cambodian urban communities.

The agreement was signed by the Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister, Keat Chhon, Minister of Economy and Finance, and Kazuhiro Yoneda, Chief Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Cambodia on March 25 in Phnom Penh.

Chhon said at the signing ceremony that the funding will support equipment improvements for de-mining activities and the Niroth Water Supply Project.

The concession loan for Niroth Water Supply Project equals 3,513 million Japanese yen, or about US$35 million, and carries an interest rate of 0.01 percent per year and with a repayment period of 40 years, including a 10-year grace period, according to Chhon.

He said the loan will be used for construction of a water treatment plant that will increase its capacity by 130,000 tons and include a transmission and distribution network to satisfy the growing water demand in Phnom Penh and its suburban areas as well as Kandal province.

The project will be co-financed with a loan 16 million Euros, equivalent to US$20 million, from Agence Francaise de Development (AFD), and US$20 million from the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA), said Chhon.

He said the grant aid for Phase V of the Improvement of Equipment for Demining Activities project will amount to 548 million Yen, approximately US$5.5 million, and will be used to purchase de-mining equipment.

He said Japan is ranked first in providing Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Cambodia. In addition to this support, Japan began increasing the grant element of the concession loans at the beginning of fiscal year 2006. From 1998 to 2004, Japan extended a total of 4,259 million Japanese yen, about US$37.12 million, for Phases I to IV of the de-mining project.

“We are very grateful for the generosity of the Government of Japan and her people. We think that without these financial assistances, Cambodia would not be able to develop her country, rapidly,” Chhon said. “Demining is a critical part of Cambodian government’s effort to combat the legacy of war, to reduce and eventually eliminate any further mines and UXO causalities. Many of development projects cannot be carried out in a safe environment without mine and UXO clearance, thus, mine action is a priority for the social economic development and poverty reduction of rural communities.”

Chhon emphasized that the participation of development partners, the private sector and all stakeholders in the development process in Cambodia has brought significant economic growth and remarkable progress in poverty reduction.

“On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I 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 purpose, thus bringing maximum benefits to the people of Cambodia,” Chhon said. “Our policy actions on ensuring aid effectiveness will continue in the foreseeable future as the Royal Government of Cambodia thrives to improve the quality of life of our people.”

He urged Japan and development partners to continue their support and cooperation as Cambodia strives to overcome its development challenges.

Yoneda Kazurio, Chief Representative of JICA, said the new projects take more responsibility and accountability in the implementation grant aid.

Kazurio said the Improvement of Equipment for Demining Activities project aims to improve Cambodia’s effectiveness in de-mining actions in order to achieve its de-mining goal of 427 square kilometers of the most densely contaminated areas in Cambodia between 2008 and 2012.

He said this grant aid will be used for the procurement of the equipment that directly contributes to both the manual detecting operation and the improvement and maintenance of the working efficiency of the brush cutters of Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC), where JICA is currently extending its technical cooperation to strengthen the function of de-mining operations.

He continued mentioned about the Nirot Water Supply Project will finance the construction of the water supply production facilities of the PPWSA in Niroth. The facilities will respond to the increasing need for the safe and durable water supply, which will further help improve the living conditions of people including the poor in the greater Phnom Penh area, as well as enable investment in the area.

“We will do our best to contribute to the development of Cambodia through conducting these projects, which are based on the Rectangular Strategy and the National Strategic Development Plan of the Royal Government of Cambodia,” Kazurio said.

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