The private sector and industry professionals were engaged yesterday in the first consultation with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government in an effort to understand the factors affecting Cambodia’s economy, and ultimately determined that human capital, infrastructure, innovation and regulatory issues as the key areas on which to focus.
The workshop was part of a year-long study being conducted by the ADB, in conjunction with the government, to help determine the needs that should be prioritised, such as human capital, infrastructure, governance, macro- and micro-economic policy, public sector delivery, poverty and inequality, among others in the policy advice that the ADB will provide to the Cambodian government.
ADB Deputy Country Director Peter Brimble said, “This is not just a ‘growth’ diagnostic but a broader country diagnostic study, considering both the constraints to growth and to ‘inclusiveness’.
We intend to examine the extent to which the gains from growth are shared at all levels of society, to which all levels of society can contribute to growth and can seize the opportunities created, be they workers, famers, business people or youth seeing a first job.
“The way we spend our expenditure depends on our knowledge.”
While discussing the role this latest survey will take in the coming years as the ADB seeks to determine its funding for the 2014 to 2018 period, Brimble said loans and aid were likely to continue to be geared towards vocational training, infrastructure improvement, and agricultural development.
Stakeholders who attended the workshop expressed great interest in the survey and its likely results.
Gordon Peters, manager of Emerging Markets Consulting, said: “As the diagnostic is assembled in draft and subsequently final format, I expect that there’s going to be a fair bit of attention paid to private-sector growth, small, medium and large enterprise groups, and all the constraints that exist in those areas, such as access to capital, infrastructure, human capital, and focus attention on strengthening key areas to help businesses grow.
“Overall, the idea that was mentioned a few times was ensuring that the approach forward was a multi-sectoral and multi-faceted approach that was well co-ordinated.
“For example, consider you invest in human-resource development, but don’t pay attention to access to capital, health or education. It needs to be a co-ordinated effort among all priority areas – that concept was mentionedimes by a number of senior speakers, and I think that’s something I’d emphasise.
“Going forward, I think the challenge is going to be prioritising what are the most important components to focus on for the inclusive growth strategy of Cambodia.”
The survey will include a special chapter highlighting the coming ASEAN Economic Community, which will be established in 2015, and the challenges that Cambodia will face in joining.
The Overarching Inclusive Growth Diagnostic process has included discussions with the ADB’s development partners, including the Ministry of Economics and Finance and the Council for the Development of Cambodia, and training on how to conduct the survey.
To contact the reporter on this story: Gregory Pellechi at [email protected]