The consequences and containment of violence cost the Cambodian economy over $1.5 billion in 2013, just under 10 per cent of its estimated GDP for the period, according to the Institute for Economics & Peace’s Global Peace Index released yesterday.
Cambodia’s ranking moved up several spots in this year’s index to 106 out of 162, but was still held back by factors such as the potential for violent demonstrations – like the fatal garment protests in Stung Meanchey last year – and political instability.
According to IEP executive chairman Steve Killelea, the $1.5 billion economic price tag accounts for “all of the expenditures related to dealing with and containing violence”, including military spending and the costs associated with violent crime.
“The estimates are highly conservative as there are many items which have not been counted simply because accurate data could not be obtained,” Killelea said, noting that much of the costs came from the military, but that police, prisons and private security were also factors.
Independent economic analyst Kang Chandararot, however, said that the research firm’s estimated cost to the economy could be misleading.
Garment sector instability costs have economic underpinnings, he said, and money spent containing violent protests and riots would be better spent seeking economic solutions to workers’ demands. But overall police and military expenditures, Chandararot argued, can’t be chalked up as a direct cost to the economy.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KEVIN PONNIAH