Gov’t Concludes 2004 Development Strategy

Senior government officials Thursday marked the conclusion of the Rectangular Strategy, an overarching policy principle that has guided Cambodia’s development since 2004.

In speeches at Phnom Penh’s Chaktomuk Conference Hall, Prime Minister Hun Sen and Cabinet Minister Sok An said the strategy had brought Cambodia greater peace and prosperity.

“The Kingdom of Cambodia, led by Samdech Hun Sen, has drawn on the Rectangular Strategy to de­fine good governance as a core zone to improve economic growth, em­ployment opportunities, social equity and efficiency,” Sok An said.

In a 2004 speech at the first Cab­inet meeting of the government’s third mandate, Hun Sen un­veiled the Rectangular Strategy, which he said was “an integrated structure of interlocking rectangles.”

The rectangles represented relationships between good governance, the strategy’s “cornerstone”; peace, stability and social order; the growth of agriculture, infrastructure and the private sector; and the continued improvement of education, health and human resources.

The rectangular strategy replaced the “triangular strategy” of 1998 to 2003; however, a successor to the rectangular strategy, which exists along with the National Strategic Development Plan and the Mill­ennium Development Goals, has not been announced.

In a lengthy address Thursday, Hun Sen listed the fruits born of the strategy.

The prime minister cited average annual Gross Domestic Product growth of 11.1 percent in the face of global inflation, a 64 percent in­crease in exports to $4.2 billion by 2007, rising government spending on schools, hospitals and rural development and increased guarantees of land ownership.

By 2030, 70 to 100 percent of Cam­bodians will have access to electricity, he said.

“The government in its third mandate achieved major accomplishments that contribute to peace, culture, social security, democracy and decentralization,” Hun Sen said.

The approximately 1,000 people in attendance were offered copies of bulky Khmer and English-language policy documents with titles including, “Plan of Action for Imple­menting the Legal and Judicial Reform Strategy” and “Chart on the Status of the Implementation of the Action Plan of the Legal and Judicial Re­form Strategy of Cambodia.”

SRP leader Sam Rainsy, who was not present for the event, said Thursday that during the life of the strategy the government had overseen a period of social injustice and corruption. Sam Rainsy said the government had not lived up to the strategy’s goals.

“There was failure on two points of the rectangle,” he said. “Inflation increased and people complain of unemployment.”

Only 50,000 jobs were available to the 300,000 annual entrants to the labor market, he said.

“This is the government’s failure. There is no equity for sharing between the rich and the poor. The poor do not see the improvement,” he added.

NGO Forum Executive Director Chhit Sam Ath said it was difficult to say whether the government had met the task it set for itself in 2004.

“If they could address what was stated in that strategy, it would be perfect,” he said. “I think everybody knows that governance is still weak and that there’s a lot of things that need to be improved.”

(Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison)

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