Fourteenth Meeting of the
Government-Development Partner Coordination Committee (GDCC)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 28 April 2009

Opening Remarks
by Deputy Prime Minister KEAT CHHON, M.P.

Minister of Economy and Finance
First Vice-Chairman, Council for the Development of Cambodia
Chairman, GDCC
Royal Government of Cambodia


Excellencies and Colleagues from the Royal Government

Honorable Ambassadors and Distinguished Representatives of Development Partners

Ladies and Gentlemen 

  1. Welcome to the Palais du Gouvernement for our fourteenth meeting of the Government-Development Partner Coordination Committee. I would particularly, like to welcome H.E. Zhang Jinfeng, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, for attending our GDCC for the first time and I would also like to welcome the delegation of New Zealand, who have come from Wellington to attend our GDCC meeting. This is the first GDCC meeting since the December 2008 Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum and I look forward to continuing our dialogue in the same partnership-based manner that was so evident throughout our CDCF meeting.

  2. Our discussions today are essentially a continuation of our CDCF dialogue. The issues we discussed in this room in December – support to the Royal Government's socio-economic development programme and reforms; the economic challenges that we must face together; and the need for our partnership to become more results-focused – are all very much still the pressing issues on which our collective attention must be focused.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

  1. Since our December dialogue we have had to confront the harsh realities of the global economic downturn and its impact on Cambodia. The economic situation has been clearly affected since that time and we now understand the implications of Cambodia's exposure to the external environment. Projections for economic growth have been revised downwards and the key drivers of growth such as the garment sector; tourism; construction; and Foreign Direct Investment, have all shown evidence of contraction or reduced income.

  2. Behind these figures, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, lies the very real probability that the livelihoods of the Cambodian people will be seriously affected. The significant progress we have made towards poverty reduction and the achievement of the Cambodia MDG targets may even be reversed in some cases.  But there are opportunities also, for example by ensuring that declining food prices can directly enhance food security and also increase our competitiveness as we seek to diversity our products and markets. We must therefore work together to preserve our gains, to consolidate our reforms, and to ensure that not only do we weather this downturn but that we also emerge stronger as a result of our combined efforts.

  3. Our meeting today will perhaps be the most significant dialogue we have had for some time. Much has already been reported in other high-level meetings and conferences in the last months but today it is my hope that we can move towards the identification of a collective, coherent and emphatic response that can deliver quick result and impact. We must work together to confront our immediate challenges but we must also begin to consider and address the deeper-rooted and longer-term measures that will result in a Cambodian economy that is more competitive, productive and resilient.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

  1. This morning we will consider some of the main drivers of the economy and measures that we can take individually and collectively to ameliorate the economic situation and its impact on the Cambodian people. In each case I hope that we can consider immediate as well as longer-term actions, and identify the specific role for Government, the private sector and our development partners. We will consider, in turn: the garment sector; the strengthening of social safety nets; the agriculture and rural development sectors; and measures that might be taken to stabilise and sustain the flows of Foreign Direct Investment. I hope that we can spend about two hours on these topics.

  2. We will then review the key agreements that were made at the CDCF. A report on the progress made in our Technical Working Groups with respect to the Joint Monitoring Indicators has been shared in advance of this meeting and my colleague Chhieng Yanara, from the Cambodian Rehabilitation and Development Board, will provide a brief up-date on this as well as on the effort to apply the Accra Agenda for Action by identifying relevant and prioritised aid effectiveness initiatives at sector level. The Ministry of Planning will provide an up-date on the extension of the NSDP to 2013 and on progress towards the integration of planning and budget processes. 

  3. There is an important role, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen – indeed there is a responsibility – for our work as partners in Cambodia's development in every topic that is on our agenda this morning. Within the Royal Government's own committees, including the Committee for Economic and Financial Policy (CEFP), we have been closely monitoring the economic situation. We will continue to identify necessary measures to be taken at macro and sector level, ensuring that the response is relevant, adequate and well coordinated. But there is also an important role for our Technical Working Groups and, of course, for our GDCC mechanism to ensure that all of these important issues are brought forward for analysis, discussion and joint action. I am confident in our ability to work together as partners and I therefore look forward to our discussions this morning.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

  1. I thank you for your kind attention. Unless there are any comments from the floor then I propose that we move straight to our first agenda item.

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