Cambodia Consultative Group Meeting

Statement by Mr. Mario de Zamaróczy
IMF Resident Representative in Cambodia
Tokyo, June 13, 2001

Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen:

In keeping with the Chairman's wish, I will make this statement short, and will address five issues.

First, the protocol concerning the independent monitor. We think we may say that the Donor Community was relieved last week when the protocol between the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC), Global Witness (GW), and representatives of the Donor Community was signed. The progress made since January 29, 2001 has been to the benefit of all parties concerned, and hopefully will be to the benefit of Cambodia's forests. It is now urgent that both the Forestry Crime Monitoring Unit (FCMU) and GW get back to work and resume crime reporting and monitoring with full commitment and full strength. What was at stake during the last four months was the use of information on forest crime. The RGC considered that it was important to keep information in order to be able to act upon it effectively. GW thought that it was important to disseminate information, in order for the RGC to be able to act upon it effectively. The compromise strikes a balance between these two positions, as it protects the information long enough for the Government to act, but short enough for the public opinion to weigh in, if appropriate. As for the Donor Community, the compromise is a testimony to the maturation of the fight against illegal logging, and bodes well for the future of sustainable forest management.

Second, we welcome the progress made in preparing a draft forestry law. A lot of efforts and consultations went into the preparation of this new draft, and while it is not perfect, by most accounts it is a major improvement over the existing legislation. We know that it is currently with the Council of Ministers, and we are looking forward to its transmittal to the National Assembly as soon as possible, as well as to its speedy consideration by the National Assembly. If there are still any issues of substance to be addressed, we would appreciate some clarity from the RGC regarding how these issues will be addressed and when the draft law is expected to be submitted to the National Assembly.

Third, we were glad to see that, a couple of months ago, there was a workshop on timber royalty assessment. However, we have not heard much on this subject since then and thus we hope that the issue will be brought back to the forefront of the Government's forestry agenda.

Fourth, the review of forestry concessions remains a concern, may be because little information has been available on possible progress made by concessionaires to meet the September deadline. We would therefore welcome an update from the RGC on the degree of preparedness of the concessionaires concerning their ability to submit new inventories, sustainable forestry plans, prepared with the assistance of professional international foresters, and social/environmental impact plans by September. In this regard, we would like to have some clarification on what is the characterization of "substantially completed" forest plans. We hope that the September deadline will be taken seriously by all parties. And since we are less than three months away from that deadline, we would welcome indications as to what does the RGC intend to do with those concessionaires that are not preparing forest plans and with those concessionaires that may turn out to be unable to meet the new requirements in September.

Fifth and last, the intended conservation of the Cardamom mountains is a welcome development and we urge the RGC to pass the required legislation expeditiously so that the vision becomes reality. De la sorte, Monsieur le Président, l'arbre ne cachera pas la forêt.

Thank you.

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