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Government pooh-poohs poverty stats

Government pooh-poohs poverty stats

THE government has rejected a recent media report stating that around 30 percent of the Kingdom’s 14 million people are currently living below the poverty line.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit took exception to a Radio Free Asia report, aired on Sunday, that quoted a spokesman from the United Nations Population Fund offering the figure.

“We entirely reject the information,” said Tith Sothea, a spokesman for the PQRU.

“We do not know for sure whether Radio Free Asia quoted incorrectly or if the [UNFPA] official spoke incorrectly, but we reject the information.”

According to yesterday’s statement, the percentage of Cambodians living in poverty fell from 50 percent in 1993 to 30 percent in 2007 and 27.4 percent in 2009.

“Even though Cambodia suffered from the global downturn, the latest figures from the Ministry of Economy and Finance and Ministry of Planning show that Cambodians living under the poverty line dropped to 27.3 percent in 2010,” the statement said.

It added that the Cambodian government expected to reach the country’s Millennium Development Goal of reducing poverty to 19.5 percent by 2015.

Pen Sophanara, the UNFPA communications officer quoted by RFA, said the figure she cited was based on a report released by the agency in 2008.

Men in black Also yesterday, the PQRU moved to quash a Thai media report that a group of “men in black” – Cambodian-trained special forces of Vietnamese origin – was “staking out” the home of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The report, carried in The Nation newspaper last week, was based on comments from a Thai government spokesman, who said police were maintaining a close watch on the men.

The PQRU denounced the report as an attempt “to link Thai unending squabbles with Cambodia” and “fan acts of hostility towards the Kingdom of Cambodia”. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also rejected the reports Sunday.

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