Use of foreign aid free of corruption: premier

By: Pech Sotheary

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday denied alleged opposition charges of corrupt use of foreign aid, claiming that any related accusations were aimed purely at boosting the popularity of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

The statement came at the groundbreaking of a Japan-funded drainage project in the capital, at which Hun Sen refuted that his government had ever received funds directly from Japan. Instead, he said, monies were channelled directly into specific projects by Tokyo.

“The bidding is taking place in Tokyo, and Japan controls the budget,” he said. “If corruption exists, the Japanese government should be criticised, not the Cambodian government. The opposition party should not manipulate or denigrate our nation.”

The comments followed efforts by Hun Sen in January to extricate the Japanese-funded Neak Loeung Bridge in Kandal from charges of embezzlement, as estimates of the total project budget fluctuated.

However, an opposition representative denied that his party had mentioned government corruption in relation to foreign aid. “No one said anything,” said Ho Vann, a CNRP lawmaker. “This was mentioned by the prime minister himself on the opening of Nak Leoung Bridge.”

A spokesperson for the Japanese International Cooperation Agency was not available yesterday, but the agency previously attributed any budget discrepancies to currency conversions.