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Last Updated: Friday, 11 February, 2005, 06:01 GMT
Cambodia PM vows sweeping reforms
By Guy De Launey
BBC News, Phnom Penh

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen
The speech was one of Hun Sen's most eagerly awaited

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen has promised sweeping changes to the country's public services.

Speaking at an international forum in Phnom Penh, he said civil service wages would be improved to attract skilled staff and reduce corruption.

Hun Sen also laid out the government's plans to improve infrastructure and boost the economy.

But noticeable by its absence was a timetable for reforms, some of which have been under discussion for years.

Investors waiting

The prime minister got a big build-up before addressing an audience of international investors attending the conference, called Seizing the Global Opportunity.

The senior minister of commerce, Cham Prasidh, said the conference was one of the most important held in Cambodia.

The aim was to highlight and motivate the reform process.

Hun Sen tore into a list of what he called concrete measures to streamline Cambodia's bureaucracy and reduce corruption.

He said government agencies that imposed high costs and delays on the private sector would be rationalised and the paperwork for businesses cut back.

It was hard to keep up with the dozens of measures outlined.

They were all designed to impress an audience that has complained at length about the high costs of doing business here.

The president of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, said earlier Cambodia was facing three major challenges: corruption, corruption and corruption.

After Hun Sen's speech the investors will want to see the words put into action.

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