Aid donors to Cambodia are likely to pledge a total of $450 million in economic aid to Phnom Penh during a two-day meeting of the Consultative Group for Cambodia beginning today in Tokyo, according to the chairman of the meeting.

The tentative sum matches the Cambodian government’s request for up to $450 million a year, or more than $1.3 billion over three years, to support its economic recovery and development efforts.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, 44, a senior World Bank official who will chair the meeting, said that the decision on whether to grant the aid very much depends on what Prime Minister Hun Sen says in his speech at the opening session.

“The international donor community will want to hear from the Cambodian government about the progress made so far in managing the economy and its commitment to implementing reforms that are very critical,” said Okonjo-Iweala, who comes from Nigeria.

Phnom Penh has been bombarded with a series of demands from the international community for reforms in education, basic human rights, forestry management, drug control and demobilization of its army. “The donor community would like to see (Cambodia’s) commitment to those reforms and, beyond commitment, specific strategies for implementing the reforms,” Okonjo-Iweala said. “The main purpose of the meeting centers on how Cambodia will actually implement the reforms beyond words.”

Thus, the Consultative Group will discuss a mechanism to monitor the implementation of any reforms Hun Sen may pledge at the meeting to go along with the anticipated $450 million economic aid package, she said.

Japan will formally announce its plan to grant 3 billion yen in yen-denominated loans for a project to repair a Cambodian harbor, the first yen loans to the country in 31 years, Japanese sources said.

By offering loans, instead of grants-in-aid, Phnom Penh’s largest aid donor aims to encourage the nation to repay its debts and speed up the process of self-sustained economic recovery, the sources said.

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