December 5, 2008 / 12:02 PM / 10 years ago

Cambodia promised aid worth nearly $1 bln for 2009

PHNOM PENH, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Cambodia has been promised aid worth $951.5 million for next year — the most since 1994 — with pledges linked to the country implementing reforms and fighting graft, the finance minister said on Friday.

Speaking at a news conference after a donors’ meeting, Keat Chhon said China was Cambodia’s biggest aid donor, with $257 million, followed by the European Union with $214 million, and Japan with $112 million.

"China is more than just a good rich neighbor ... China knows what Cambodia needs," he told reporters, saying Beijing’s aid was unconditional, unlike assistance from the rest of the donors.

At the conference, other donors urged Cambodia to approve a long overdue anti-corruption law which they said was essential for private sector investment.

"Passing the law will be an important signal, providing investors and development partners with confidence to make more long-term commitments in Cambodia," said Qimiao Fan, the newly appointed World Bank country manager for Cambodia.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also expressed reservations about the government’s plan to double spending on the military next year to $500 million after a border clash with Thailand earlier this year.

Finance Minister Keat Chhon said the spending increase was for pay and social welfare rather than arms and equipment. (Reporting by Ek Madra; Editing by Bill Tarrant)

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