Keynote Speech at the Launching of the 2011 Mid-term Review Report on the Implementation of the National Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013
Phnom Penh, June 14, 2012
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, I am very pleased to participate in the Launching of the 2011 Mid-term Review Report on the Implementation of the National Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013. Taking this auspicious opportunity, I would like to highly value the management and officials of the Ministry of Planning, Supreme National Economic Council and concerned ministries that make a concerted effort to realize this valuable and fundamental piece of work for Cambodia development. I would like to thank development partners, international and national organizations, civil society, private sector, in particular the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the World Bank, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund for providing both technical and financial support to the Ministry of Planning for preparing the 2011 Mid-term Review Report on the Implementation of the National Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013.
In this spirit, I strongly believe that the continued implementation of the National Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013 will return better result as we have accumulated lessons and experiences from the implementation of previous plans and due to fact that the NSDP Update is formulated by using appropriate methodology with more careful consideration of responsibilities of concerned ministries-institutions and more accurate projection of expenditure for implementing the plan’s activities and, in particular, strong support from concerned ministries-institutions and other stakeholders. The NSDP Update 2009-2013 reflects the Royal Government’s firm determination to realize the visions of national development policies, formulated to respond to the people’s faith and support, even though it means a heavy burden.
Recently, Cambodia has had to deal with three major problems, that include (1) addressing employment problem to promote economic growth while the world faced with global financial crisis and decline; (2) the need to protect territorial integrity; (3) dealing with problems caused by severe flooding in 2011. In general, these problems could not prevent us from moving forward. Cambodia need to continue to promote economic growth and accelerate poverty reduction by focusing the attention on productivity enhancement and diversification in the agriculture sector, agro-industry development, education expansion, vocational and skill training, health service, restoration and construction of physical infrastructure, solution to land issues, private sector development, strengthening of institutional capacity, trade facilitation and integration of Cambodia’s economy into the regional market. Indeed, these work priorities will strengthen our position and improve work consistency in order to address challenges and bottlenecks.
Based on the National Strategic Development Plan, Cambodia is able to achieve a remarkable development progress, that include the assurance of the normalcy of the people’s livelihood, the ability to successfully guide the country during the period of hardship, the creation of favorable environment for ensuring macroeconomic stability, reactivating economic growth after suffering from economic turmoil in 2009 and achieving socio-economic development and poverty reduction progress as stipulated in Cambodia Millennium Development Goals 2015. At the same time, Cambodia has fully integrated itself into region and the world and is actively engaging in various international cooperation based on the principle of equal status and equal rights. The National Strategic Development Plan will continue supporting and accelerating the implementation of various Royal Government’s policy programs, in particular, the Rectangular Strategy – Phase II for growth, employment, equity and efficiency.
In this regard, I am very pleased to officially launch the Mid-term Review Report on the Implementation of National Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013, which takes into account all developments since 2009, provides comprehensive, balanced and unbiased information that allow us to assess the economic welfare and key foundation for socio-economic development with greater certainty. I would brief the recent macroeconomic and social developments as follows:
- During 2004-2007, annual economic growth rate exceeded 10%. Growth rate slightly declined to 6.7% in 2008, and to nearly zero in 2009. In 2010 and 2011, growth bounced back to 6%-7% per annum.
- With regard to budget implementation, up to 2008 the Royal Government maintained the gaps between revenue and expenditure about 3%-4% of GDP. After 2008, the Royal Government has increased public expenditure to prevent economic downturn, causing the gap between revenue and expenditure to increase to 6% in 2010. The inflation increased to two-digit figure in 2008, but at present it has decreased to between 5%-6%; and the Riel/USD exchange rate has fluctuated within 5% limit.
- In 2009, preliminary forecast shown that the proportion of people living below the poverty line is about 20%. This shows that Cambodia has achieved its first goal of the Cambodia’s Millennium Development Goals.
- The adoption of the Anti-Corruption Law gives the jurisdiction to the Royal Government to enforce this law. Various legislative and public administrative reform programs are taking place. The important point that should be noted is the role of district-commune councils in implementing development programs in the framework of de-concentration and decentralization that are worth between USD 70 million and USD 90 million per annum.
- Good governance has been measured through some key indicators such as the preparedness for investment, confidence in the public civil servants, safety level, land conflict and so forth. Based on these indicators, we see that the quality of governance has been gradually improved.
- With respect to agriculture, Cambodia exported 2.5 million metric tons of paddy rice in early 2010. Rice fields account for 79% of the total cultivated areas. The size of rubber plantation increased by 39.6% between 2009 and 2010. Fresh water fisheries output increased by 3.85% during the same period. Seawater fisheries out also increased on average about 40.5% in the last 5 years.
- Regarding land management, up to early 2011, about 2.4 million land title certificates in 16 provinces have been issued by the Ministry of Land Management, Urbanization and Construction. Among those, the areas of 6,250 hectares are social land concession for 1,604 landless families under the social land distribution project. The Ministry allocated additional 10,000 hectares of land for 3,000 families under the social land concession program. With regard to UXO clearance, the total area of 53,575 hectares have been cleared up to 2009, and the clearance coverage increased to 63,962 hectares in 2010.
Along with this, the Royal Government deepened its reform programs in two priority sectors, including fisheries and land sector. In other words, it is the implementation of new activities within the framework of old policies in fisheries and land sector. In particular, on March 8, 2012, I laid out seven recommendations regarding fishing lot reform and nullified the directive on the restriction of family-level fishing equipment to accommodate this deepened reform program. The implementation of fishing lot reform program not only allow for household fishing and conservation of fishing lot, but also the establishment of fishing communities for managing fishing lots, and preventing and cracking down on fishing violations. Taking this opportunity, I would like to give instructions to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Fisheries Administration and land authorities to continue to focus attention on a number of measures, that include:
(1) – continued dissemination of fishing regulations and laws to the people, especially the seven recommendations I laid out on March 8, 2012;
(2) – training and capacity building for fishing communities across the country to ensure the sustainability of fishing and conservation lots, especially capacity strengthening for fishing communities so that they can fully participate in implementing the deepened reform program and avoid unintentional fishing violation;
(3) – promoting the spirit of conserving flooded forest and mangrove among fishing communities, especially through the strengthening of all levels of partner network to support the activities of fishing communities;
(4) – the Fisheries Administration and local authorities must permanently monitor the crack down on fishing violations in order to implement strategy on cracking down fishing violations and strengthening of fishing communities to manage the fishing lots awarded by the Royal Government.
Along with this, in order to increase the efficiency of the management of economic land concessions, the Royal Government has issued firm orders to competent ministries-institutions and authorities to effectively implement the policy and conditions of the economic land concession agreements and focus attention on the implementation of the agreements on economic land concessions, especially in line with the leopard spot formula to avoid violation on individual and community lands and impact on the livelihood of the people, aiming to make economic land concessions serve the interest of the country and the people in a sustainable manner. In addition, the companies that have been grated economic land concession but violated procedures and conditions by logging without developing the land, illegally encroaching more land, keeping the land for resale, violating agreement conditions, infringing on individual or community’s lands, the Royal Government will revoke all those economic land concessions. To implement this spirit, local people, who have been living, either legally or illegally, in the areas of economic land concessions and economic forest concessions will be given land titles. Along with this, the Royal Government will allocate at least 10% of the economic land or forest concessional areas for local people who have been living on the economic land or forest concessional areas to use and derive benefits from, and to prepare for the possible increase of land demand in those communities.
- With respect to rural development, Cambodia plans to construct additional 3,518 KM of rural roads from 2009 to 2013. During the first half of the plan, 915 KM of rural roads were constructed. In 2010, around 43.5% of rural dwellers have access to clean water, against the CMDG’s goal of 50% by 2015. This indicates that we are on track to achieve this target.
- Cambodia succeeded in managing its water resource management. The target is to expand 25,000 hectares of irrigated areas per annum. Cambodia has the potential of irrigating more than 30% of cultivation in spite of limited irrigation efficiency.
- The total length of DBST roads increased from 3,204 km in 2009 to 3,954 km in 2011, which correspond to targets of the plan. Along with that, in order to enhance rail transportation service, Cambodia has entered into a concession agreement with a private company that will allow it to administer rail transportation business, once the railway reconstruction has been completed put into operation in 2013. The capacity of major ports have been strengthened and expanded. Regarding civil aviation, Cambodia has ratified two conventions, including ASEAN Agreement on the Liberalization of Air Freight Services and ASEAN Multilateral Agreement on Air Services.
- Per capita electricity output increased by 5% to 6% per annum from 2009 to 2011. However, the high cost of electricity per KWH in Cambodia remains a challenge for industrial sector.
- The industrial output experienced 2-digit jump in 2010 following the decline in 2009, while the construction sector shrank in 2010. The tourism sector increased by 16% in 2010, following the slowdown in 2009. The number of tourists increased in the first three months of 2011.
- With regard to the implementation of employment policy, we arrange for the dispatch of workers to work abroad by ensuring workplace safety and mechanism for solving workplace conflicts, promoting social security and upgrading workers’ skill through vocational training.
- With respect to social security sector, the National Social Protection Strategy for the Poor and Vulnerable was launched in 2011. It comprises of four main programs, including: vocational and skill trainings, social insurance (contributory system), social safety nets (non-contributory system), and other complimentary social welfare services.
- In the education sector, we successfully achieved targets for the primary education, but there remained some major challenges such as the education and retention of students in post-primary education and tertiary education.
- We observed a positive trend in the health sector, especially the improving indicators of maternal and child mortality rates. We also achieved a remarkable progress in the work related to gender, in particular, all ministries-institutions have been vigorously implementing their respective gender mainstreaming programs.
We noticed that Cambodia has undergone a tremendous change, ranging from political and security to economic and social changes over the last few years. This report highlights new development progresses in Cambodian, by directing attention to accelerating poverty reduction through vivid policies and activities and providing recommendations for future implementation. In light of this, the management of all ministries-institutions must continue reviewing and formulating future action plans according to the National Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013 and must overcome challenges ahead such as the lack of physical and human resources, the limitation of public service reforms, the lack of harmonization between programs, and weaknesses of monitoring and evaluation.
Indeed, the Mid-term Review Report of the National Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013 is a vital document and work agenda that acts as the roadmap for concrete, appropriate, and correct actions in the short term. Obviously, the royal government will continue its effort, vigorously implement and deepen its existing reform programs, because these reforms are not only a matter of life and death, but also represent our ownership. Based on this view, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to provide some recommendations as follows:
First. We must continue to expand policy coordination between ministries-institutions, development partners, and donor communities to strengthen governance, to broaden and deepen reform programs in all sectors. These tasks must be consolidated into a single system, interconnected and mutually complimentary for the realization of socio-economic development goals, the management of development work, and the protection of natural resources and environment.
Second. All relevant ministries-institutions must prepare or update their respective strategic development plans by reviewing ongoing projects and programs as well as new projects and programs which are funded by either internal or external resources in order to ensure consistency with and linkage to the National Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013.
Third. All provinces-capitals must update their respective strategic provincial-capital development plans and prepare the 3-year rolling public investment programs in conformity to priorities and mandate of the National Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013 as instruments for implementing decentralization and deconcentration program and considering investment proposals determined by the Law on the Administrative Management of the Capital, Provinces, Municipalities, Districts, Khans.
Fourth. Ministries-institutions must give high priority to regular monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of action plans, programs and projects, and report to the Ministry of Planning, so that the Ministry of Planning can consolidate information and make overall assessment of the progress in achieving goals and targets of development as inscribed in the National Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013.
As mentioned above, I would like to appeal to the management and officials of all ministries-institutions, armed forces and local authorities of all levels to support and actively take part in implementing the National Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013. Given the implementation of this plan, I strongly believe that Cambodia can make active and consistent steps forwards to achieve its long-term vision, which is to gradually build Cambodia society to ensure full peace, political stability, security and social order, equitable and sustainable development, firm adherence to the multi-party democratic principle, respect of human rights and human dignity, social cohesion, highly educated citizens, improved standard of living and harmonization in the society.
Before ending, once again I would like to deeply thank and highly value the Ministry of Planning, the Word Bank, and the UN system for playing active and important role in coordinating the preparation of the mid-term review report and for providing technical and financial support for preparation and publishing of mid-term review report of National Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013. I would like to thank private sector, civil society, national and international organizations as well as government representatives of friend countries for actively supporting the preparation and implementation of the National Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013 that results in such significant progress.
Finally, together with the launching of the Midterm Review Report on Implementation of National Strategic Development Plan Update 2009-2013, I would like to wish Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Healthiness and Strength.