Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Opposition renews calls for $500 million stimulus package

Opposition renews calls for $500 million stimulus package

Opposition renews calls for $500 million stimulus package

SRP and HRP claim falling agricultural prices are hurting Cambodia's export economy, but govt officials say they have $3 billion in reserve.

OPPOSITION lawmakers have made renewed calls for the government to prepare a US$500 million economic stimulus package, claiming the Kingdom's export-oriented economy is being hit hard by falling global prices for agricultural produce.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Prime Minister Hun Sen, 18 parliamentarians from the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) and Human Rights Party (HRP) restated a request that $500 million be set aside to protect the economy against further degradation.

"Due to a dramatic drop in the price of agricultural produce ... the income as well as the livelihoods of millions of Cambodian farmers has worsened dramatically," stated the letter.

"We hope that the government will prepare measures to help our farmers maintain their livelihoods."

In particular, the letter called for government support of agricultural prices and the provision of low-interest loans to those in financial need, reiterating the contents of a letter SRP President Sam Rainsy sent to Hun Sen on January 16.

‘Lucky' economy

But CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap dismissed opposition claims, saying Cambodia had been "lucky" to avoid the worst impacts of the crisis and that it has large funds set aside that would cushion the country against financial instability.

"We have prepared things in advance," he said. "Each year we have a reserve budget of between $200 and $300 million. Now we have almost $3 billion in the National Treasury that has not yet been used."

In response, Sam Rainsy dismissed the government's claims it was ready to weather the storm.

"What the government has actually set aside for the fiscal year 2009 as "unplanned expenditures" - $144 million compared with $132 million for 2008 -  is not adequate to cope with the deteriorating situation," he wrote in a January 26 letter to the Post.

Export woes

Economist Sok Sina agreed with Sam Rainsy that falling prices would harm the Cambodian economy, saying that grass-roots benefits - such as cheap petrol and rice - were outweighed by the overall decline in prices of agricultural produce.

"The price of petrol has declined, but not much else," he told the Post.

"Low prices benefit many rice consumers, but not if you look at the economy as a whole. Cambodia is a rice-exporting country, and if the price of rice is low, the Cambodian economy will not benefit."

He said that the opposition's call made economic sense, although it lacked details.

"I think it's a good idea. If you look at the budget plan for 2009, you can see [it] has increased compared to 2008. Credit and aid has also increased," he said.

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay called for the Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon to answer concerns set out in the letter when the National Assembly next convenes.

"It is necessary for the public to know about the government's program," he said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Thy Sovantha threatens new suit

    Social media celebrity and card-carrying CPP member Thy Sovantha yesterday said she will file a lawsuit against wildlife NGO head Suwanna Gauntlett alleging discrimination after the latter allegedly denied her access to an ecotourism program the group is launching today in Koh Kong province. The

  • Police raid Siem Reap party, arrest 10 foreigners over ‘pornographic’ images

    A group of 10 foreign tourists appeared in court today after being arrested for producing “pornographic” photos in Siem Reap town on Thursday, while dozens more were detained temporarily and let go after being lectured on their behaviour, according to authorities. A report posted to the

  • Hun Sen’s in-law removed from RCAF after cockfighting rings raided

    Thai Phany, the nephew-in-law of Prime Minister Hun Sen who is accused of running two large cockfighting rings, has been removed as a general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. Phany, formerly a one-star brigadier general, was removed by royal decree on December 19, according to

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially