REMARKS BY H.E. Mr. TAKAHASHI FUMIAKI
AMBASSADOR OF JAPAN TO CAMBODIA
AT THE CONSULTATIVE GROUP MEETING
“FURTHER REHABILITATION AND CONSTRUCTION OF PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE”
PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA
6 December 2004
Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to have the
opportunity to deliver on behalf of the donor community, some remarks on
the “Further Rehabilitation and Construction of Physical Infrastructure”.
Physical infrastructure accounted for 23% of
the total amount of aid Cambodia received from 1999 to 2003. This shows
that infrastructure is one of the priority sectors for her development.
Cambodia has a less developed infrastructure than neighboring countries
due to the destruction brought during the long civil war and a lack of
maintenance since then. This is a serious obstacle to the socio-economic
growth of this country as physical infrastructure is important for
realizing both sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. It is
necessary for national integration and maintaining balanced development
among provinces and also crucial for facilitating Cambodia’s regional
As it is indispensable for access to public
services provided by hospitals and schools and thus guaranteeing a normal
functioning society, it is as well the foundation of economic development
whether in industrial, agricultural or service sector, a comprehensive
national plan for developing physical infrastructure is needed. Such
development plan should prioritize the realization of specific projects.
In formulating and carrying out an overall
infrastructure development plan, attention must be paid to the following
Priority should be given to
projects that benefit the entire Greater Mekong Sub-region or promote
As the construction of
infrastructure could have negative impacts on the environment and social
development, environmental impact assessments and monitoring before and
after the implementation of infrastructure project should be carried out
with transparent and effective procedures.
To make good use of the
infrastructure, its maintenance is indispensable. It is therefore
important to establish a planned maintenance system and to secure
necessary funding for this purpose. Appropriate maintenance contributes
to economizing repair expenses.
The development of physical
infrastructure should be accompanied by proper guidelines for its
utilization or system for regulating related activities and capacity
building for its maintenance and the administration of related systems.
Sector reform is also needed in certain sectors for their effective
operation such as in the power; telecommunications or railroad sectors.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Now I would like to touch upon certain
specific questions related to selected sectors.
As road conditions have been steadily improving, traffic congestion
and road accidents caused by increased number of vehicles which drive at
high speed have become an issue of serious concern. Motorists without
driving licenses and pedestrians and motorists ignorant of the traffic
regulations have also contributed to the significant increase in the
number of traffic accidents. Indeed, fatalities as a result of traffic
accidents this year has surpassed the death rate brought by mines.
The proliferation of over-loaded vehicles
without registration is shortening the life of roads and is also a
contributing factor to the increase of accidents. It is a matter of
urgency to strengthen the system, in order that roads users comply with
the license regulations and car registration and that society is made
fully aware of these regulations.
(2) Other transportation
Other forms of transportation, such as aviation, railways and inland
waterways are all at insufficient stages of development. Diversification
of transportation is very important and the formulation of a master plan
on these sectors is needed.
Not only does the condition of ports require improvement, but in order to
make the distribution of goods more efficient, the procedure of entry and
clearance needs urgent simplification, especially as ports in
Cambodia are facing competition from other ports in Vietnam and Thailand.
Efforts toward this end and a reduction in red tape should be given more
attention to. It is a welcoming sign that in August the importance of
partnership between CUSTOMS and CAMCONTROL was recognized in the National
Seminar of Administrative Reform Action Plan 2004 to 2008.
High electricity rates compared to the neighboring countries and
unstable supply are hampering the socio-economic development of Cambodia.
Thus a reliable electricity charge collecting system should be established
along with the development of facilities for the stable supply of
The formulation of an overall electricity
supply plan is needed and in doing so not only power generation in
Cambodia by thermal, hydro power or mini hydro power in rural areas but
also potential purchase from neighboring countries should be considered.
It should be based on a realistic demand estimate for both urban and rural
areas and take into consideration existing master plans and studies
already conducted by various donors.
Moreover, any situation where public
facilities constructed by the official development assistance that could
not be fully utilized due to the existence of unfavorable contracts or
constraints imposed by IPP (Independent Power Producers) should be avoided
and rectified. Fairness and transparency are required in granting
concessions and all information must be disclosed about IPP activities
that could affect any ODA project.
The Ministry of Post and Telecommunication (MPTC) is in the process of
further developing its infrastructures. In some sub-sectors, the private
sector is playing an important role as well such as in mobile phones and
the internet. Based on the current situation, the promotion of the
telecommunication sector should be accompanied by an appropriate
regulating and supervising system. In order to achieve this, it is
necessary to develop transparent and fair rules such as for entry into
business and tariff setting. It should be also supported by an
organizational framework separating regulatory and operational bodies,
which is appropriate as well for a smooth formulation of the rules.
As the damage caused by this year’s draught clearly shows, agricultural
production is still carried out under unstable conditions due to an almost
complete dependence on natural conditions, especially rain fall. In
order to sustain and stabilize agricultural production, which should be
this country’s principal engine to reduce poverty and stimulate economic
growth, the rehabilitation and construction of irrigation systems and
supporting maintenance system are critical. Even compared to other
infrastructures such as roads, irrigation systems will be never usable
without its proper operation and maintenance. In this regards, it should
be underlined that there is the utmost necessity for a well programmed and
systematic maintenance of the facilities based upon a clear sharing of the
responsibilities among central, focal government and water users and the
allocation of funds from the national budget for their operation and
The chaotic growth of social and economic infrastructure has generally
worsened environmental conditions and countermeasures to remedy the
situation are indispensable. Without concrete measures, it will only
deteriorate further. At present there is an insufficient drainage and
solid waste management system which has been caused by the un-regulated
construction and operation of many large-scale hotels.
Special Economic Zones
As the Royal Government of Cambodia is well aware, comprehensive
infrastructure development in potential areas such as the corridor between
Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville and the border regions is essential for
further economic development.
Finally, I would like to touch upon some
issues of governance which are related to and important factors for a
smooth infrastructure development. In countries like Cambodia where
financial resources are scarce, it is necessary to mobilize private
investment for constructing public infrastructures. However, such
mobilization should be controlled by a fair and transparent legal system
which regulates selection of contractors, the awarding of concessions and
licensing procedures, and ensures the enforcement of relevant laws and
A fair and transparent legal system means
fair and competitive granting and licensing procedures and full disclosure
of information about contracts and the details of the project.