Saturday, October 2, 2010

Keynote Address at the Inauguration of the Tonle Sap Bridge and the Bridge-to-National Highway 6A Connecting Road

September 20, 2010

- Your Venerable Samdech Preah Moha Sometheathepadei NUN NGET, Head of Monks,

- Your Venerable Monks,

- Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

- Dear Compatriots,

It is my great pleasure to be here once again to inaugurate the “Concrete Bridge Crossing Over Tonle Sap and the Brige-National Highway 6A Connecting Road” in Prek Pnov, Russei Keo District. In this joyous moment, I would like to congratulate all compatriots who will travel through this area as the new bridge crossing over Tonle Sap and connecting road are now inaugurated to serve the public.

Infrastructure construction is indeed a key responsibility of the Royal Government in serving public interests and a key priority in its socio-economic agenda. However, due to limited resources in addressing all needs immediately, the Royal Government opted to mobilize resources from development partners and private sector to fill the gap to build physical infrastructure to underpin people’s livelihoods and growth. Although this is a toll bridge, Cambodia will gain enormous benefits from this, both in terms of economic and social perspectives. This attests to the Royal Government’s utmost effort in recent years to fast-track development in all sectors to promote people’s livelihoods, in which the expansion of physical infrastructure in rural areas is a key agenda, reflected through the Rectangular Strategy which identify physical infrastructure as locomotive of growth and effective means of poverty reduction. In this regard, it shows that the Royal Government of Cambodia has been working very hard, especially in the last few years, in the restoration and development of all sectors to quickly improve the living standard and welfare of the people; for that includes extensive restorations and constructions of physical infrastructure in order to reach all rural areas. All these tasks are a strategic part of the“Rectangular Strategy” which considers physical infrastructures as priorities that could be compared with the “Locomotive” of economic growth and as an effective way to reduce Cambodia’s poverty. Obviously, all those physical infrastructures, especially roads and bridges, are the blood vessels of our country’s economy connecting all areas in the Kingdom of Cambodia; so that it will become a fully functional economic body that can achieve internal integration and external integration of Cambodia’s economy into the region as well as in the world. Also it is a key of economic growth, and it is making sure that sharing of economic growth reach each Cambodian citizen equally. In this spirit, the Royal Government of Cambodia is required to continue working hard in the restoration and development of transportation physical infrastructures including: roads, railways, river routes, sea routes, international ports and airports. And it also requires practice of open sky policy so that trade, investment, agriculture and transportation activities across the border etc. can be promoted and developed.

Furthermore, these means provide opportunity for the people to find good markets for their produces; and it is a good economic measure that highly enables famers to avoid exploitations, unfair quality of agricultural products, lowering the price by middlemen that makes them lose their income, lose interest in farming and cause them give up their farming careers. Consequently, they would migrate to urban areas or abroad to look for better paid jobs. This point shows the common aspect of the interest provided by bridges and roads; and it also shows the hard work of the Royal Government that always consider all these priorities as very important priorities. Though Cambodia does not have a large source of capital to invest in physical infrastructures in this location, still the Royal Government of Cambodia has tried to persuade other investors to invest in those sectors.

Taking this opportunity, the Royal Government and I myself would like to warmly welcome and deeply thank Luk OknhaLy Yong Phat, President of LYP Group for having invested heavily in the improvement of our society for the development and progress of Cambodia. All these robust activities are good gestures of private sector that has been fulfilling the day-to-day growing demand in infrastructures of Cambodian people. Also, the private sector has been involved vigorously with the improvement of the physical infrastructure in Phnom Penh- the heart of the Royal Government of Cambodia, administration, diplomacy, economy, commerce, industry and tourism- to speed up the development of the capital. This involvement is very meaningful and important for the internal integration and regional integration regarding the development of economy, tourism, and the creation of many employment opportunities, which improve the living standard of Cambodian people and speedily lift them out of poverty.

Generally, I myself always regard private sector as not only the engine of economic growth but also as a sector that plays a crucial role complementing the Royal Government’s public investment; particularly investment in physical infrastructure that helps solve the problem facing the increase in population and vehicles that have been growing from one year to another. Obviously, along the National Road 6A and the National Road 5, there are often heavy traffic jams as these two are important routes for people to travel from a number of provinces to the Capital City of Phnom Penh. These provinces include Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Pursat, and Kampong Chhnang. And now Japan-Cambodia Friendship Bridge, the only way to come to the Phnom Penh from the National Road 6A, is congested with traffics every day. Thus, this investment will really be helping reduce the traffic jams in Chruoy Chongva area. This bridge links the National Road 6A to the National Road 5, thus it diverts the heavy transportation truck traffics from National Road 6A and 5 to National Road 4 without passing through Phnom Penh Capital.

It is true that society’s need has constantly been growing from day-to-day in all areas, particuarly the increase in traffic. In this situation, if we do not encourage private sector to invest in bridges and roads, we will not be able to solve the traffic congestion, internal intergration of this area, and will not be able to achieve the economic effectiveness and efficiency, and the share of economic growth with equity, even for the areas next to the Phnom Penh Captial.

In this spirit, I myself would like to ask relevant instittuions, especially the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) and local authorities to, by all means, continue to persuade private investors and and investment in physical infrastructure, especially for areas along upstream Mekong River, downstream Mekong River, Basac River, Tonle Sap and other areas that have high economic potential. Parellel with this, we also have other ambitions such as constructions of highways, railways, ports, and skyway bridges in order to speed up the development and achieve the importance of integration, and increase the reputation of Cambodia in the international stage. Since we are fully at peace with political stability, we have tremendous potential ability to focu on socio-economic development. In this regard, we have to use this opportunity and existing resources to make this era become a strong foundation for the other develpments of the future generations, as we have inherited from the legacy left by our ancestors during the prosperous Angkor period. In this sense, we have to use all available opportunities resources, aiming to make this regime become a strong basic foundation for the development of next generation as we all have received from our ancestors during the Angkor era.

Taking this apportunity, I would like the LYP.Group Company to look for other new possibilities through this picture, at any areas which has high potential economic, to continue building and strengthening the Cambodian economic foundation. This will help accelerate Cambodia’s integration with equal treat to all affairs in region as well as in the world, and Cambodia will achieve sustainable economic growth while an appreciated victory will be ensured for our country.

On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I strongly agree with a great will and effort to encurage the building of phisical infrastructures which is a priority and uniqe policy we have designed to upgrate and develope to catch up with the neibouringing countries in the near future. In this sense, we could clearly see that our effort to build and get any achievments for the whole countries will help to develop socio-economy through the Rectangular Strategy, including growth, employment, equity, and efficiency. It is the fact that the building of the phisical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, transportation, infrastructure, electricity power system, have contributed Cambodia to reach an average economic growth of 10,3% during 2004-2008. At the same time, the average income per capita increased three times from 229$ in 1993 to 739$ in 2008. Also, the poverty rate decreased from 50% in 1993 to 30% in 2007, and continued to decrease at 27, 4% in 2009. This proves that Cambodia’s economic growth and poverty reduction is depending on the direct interaction of all phisical structures. It is true that many achievements that we all have got, is our magnificent pride for our country which could not be bargained, because we have started from scratch to develop all sectors after the Victory Day of 7 January, 1979, since we all have taken greatest effort to build and develop our socio-economy. Our great effort since the past has been continuing to flourish with unlimited fruitful results, and then it has become the basic foundation for our future development. This great output brings us an encuragement to continue our effort, enhance and glorify the phisical infrastructure from our soul and will toward reaching florish stage of development for the socio-economic development of Cambodia.

At the same time, even we have, so far, done many achievements, still, we continue to urgently solve other important issues including human resouce develoment, improve organization capacity, also continue to enhance and extend socio-economic infrastructure, which is an important key to attract bussines investment, improve agriculture sector, industrial sector, agro-industry, agri-bussiness, tourism, construction, people’s welfare, sustainable economics growth, and quick poverty reduction.

Meanwhile, I would like to appeal to all people who live in this area as well to all levels of local authorities to join hand and cooperate with each others, which is a proper Khmer character, in order to protect and maintain these roads and bridges for long use for the next generation.

Finally, along with this joyful meeting of the official inauguration of this “Cement Bridge Crossing Tonle Sap and the Road Connected from Easter River Bank of the Bridge to National Road 6A”, May I wish Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests, Teachers and all Students, and all Compatriots the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health, and Strength.

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