JICA ‘top infra supporter in Cambodia’

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has become the biggest infra supporter in the Kingdom as it constituted 13 per cent of infrastructural spending support offered by the foreign entities, a study by leading global accounting and auditing firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers has revealed.

JICA is followed by ADB (10 per cent), Exim Bank Solution of China (9 per cent), AFD (4 per cent), EU (4 per cent), AusAID (2.5 per cent), EID (2.5 per cent), World Bank (2 per cent) and others together (9 per cent).

The study found that Cambodia still has space to raise debt to fund infrastructure needs. “Its overall government debt to GDP of 37 per cent gives it ample room to borrow from multilateral development banks, international financing institutions and other bilateral fora.”

JICA has offered over $700 million to the National Road No 5 Improvement Project in concessional loans. The project has resulted in the increasing volume of traffic on the road, which connects Phnom Penh to Thailand.

The project has paved the way for strengthening trade promotion and bilateral ties between both nations apart from enhancing economic cooperation.

The 366-kilometre project, which starts from Prek Kdam and ends at Poi Pet, has been divided into three sections – North, South and Central. The existing National Road has been expanded from two lanes to four apart from many new bypasses and several bridges.

Three months ago, JICA signed a Record of Discussions with the Cambodian Government for the Formulation of the Development Plan for Urban Water Supply.

“Access to safe water in regional cities in Cambodia remains low. Apart from the two public water supply authorities and 10 public waterworks that exist in major cities, water services in Cambodia are provided by private operators.

“In order to achieve a safe water supply for people throughout the country, an efficient demarcation between public and private water-supply operators is needed,” JICA said in a statement issued then.

Japan has been active in extending assistance for the restoration of Cambodia through its economic growth encompassing several parameters including the infrastructure. Tokyo’s official development assistance (ODA) to Phnom Penh has been unparalleled and constitutes 25 per cent of the entire global assistance received by Cambodia.

Japan has been asserting four areas, where support will be continuously offered to Cambodia and they include sustainable economic growth, supporting the socially vulnerable, agriculture along with rural and infrastructural development.

Khmer Times earlier published a World Bank report, which said: “Cambodia continues to have a serious infrastructure gap and would benefit from greater connectivity and investments in rural and urban infrastructure.”

The Global Infrastructure Hub, an initiative by G20, says Cambodia must make an investment somewhere in the neighbourhood of $28 billion until 2040 to fix this huge gap. As per the global infrastructure rankings compiled by the University of Notre Dame, Cambodia is ranked 125 among the ‘low category countries’ with a score of 0.432.

To fix this gap, the Cambodian government has initiated many laws to attract private investments for boosting infrastructural development, and they include the Law on Investment in the Kingdom of Cambodia of 2021 (Law on Investment) and the Law on Public-Private Partnership of 2021 (PPP Law).