FORMER Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra urged Cambodia on Thursday to focus on rural development and infrastructure investment in order to emerge competitively from the global downturn.
Thaksin’s remarks came as part of a conference held at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, titled “Cambodia and the World After the Financial Crisis”, that included about 300 local economics experts and members of the business community.
Last week, the onetime telecommunications mogul was appointed economics adviser to the Cambodian government in a move that drew ire from the current Thai administration. Thaksin was deposed in a 2006 coup and self-exiled last year to avoid a two-year prison term for corruption.
Cambodia must develop its ability to add value as well as exploit its advantages in labour and raw materials, Thaksin said, citing agriculture and mining as two examples of sectors that may be ripe for increased profitability.
In the development of an economy, “the first tier is only selling labour and natural resources. The second tier… starts to have some value added, and also some value creation,” Thaksin said.
The newly appointed economics adviser spoke of the problems that befell developed countries in the run-up to the global crisis, arguing that these nations concentrated too much of their talent in finance.
Thaksin said that only by creating more opportunity within the Kingdom could Cambodia prevent a “brain drain” in which its most capable workers seek their fortune abroad.