Cambodia is getting ready to launch a 2021-2023 plan to lift the economy out of the Covid-19 rut and chart a course for sustainable and inclusive growth, according to Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth.
Centred on enhancing competitiveness and promoting economic diversification, the plan will be firmly grounded on maintaining a strong industrial base with high export capacity and stronger links with regional and global supply chains, he said.
He also pegged Cambodia’s economic growth at 4.8 per cent for 2022, saying that the coronavirus outbreak has eased after widespread vaccination, ushering in the emergence of a ‘new normal’.
The minister was speaking at an online workshop organised by the National Assembly on August 17 examining the developments of public financial policy and macroeconomic policy frameworks relevant in the preparation of the draft Law on Financial Management for 2022.
He stressed that the Covid-19 crisis had ravaged economies around the world, Cambodia included, since its inception last year. However, he said, the Kingdom has been drawing up three priority strategies to return the economy to a high growth path – “economic recovery”, “reforms” and “building resilience”.
“Although the global socio-economic situation remains highly uncertain due to the prolongation of Covid-19, Cambodia may also have some opportunities.
“This hinges on Cambodia’s ability and capacity to adapt to the changing regional and global situation, as well as to know how to leverage favourable conditions to enhance economic competitiveness and improve the investment environment, to attract more investment and business – which could pour out of areas involved in trade disputes or that are politically unstable – as well as shift regional supply chains to Cambodia,” he said.
“Economic recovery”, the first of the three priority strategies, entails building a strong foundation for moving the economy back into growth territory, with a focus on safety, impact management, the revival and stabilisation of viable businesses – especially in the most affected sectors – and the rapid creation of new jobs, according to Pornmoniroth.
“Reforms” covers the continued introduction of key reform measures as instruments designed to improve, among other things, trade facilitation, investment and business, promotion apparatuses and digitalisation in economic systems used in the public and private sectors, he said.
“Building resilience” involves strengthening preparedness and response capacity to disease outbreaks or similar public emergencies that could emerge in the future, and focuses on the development of solid health and social protection systems, effective social intervention programming, and ensuring the sustainability and inclusivity of socio-economic rehabilitation and development, he added.
“In order to be successful in all of these strategies, Cambodia needs to increase its commitment and focus on firm efforts and high political will, putting the national interest first in the fight against Covid-19 and accelerate reforms in all areas, especially in public institutions and their capacity building, to ensure that Cambodia can achieve its long-term development vision,” he said.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance noted that the Covid-19 health crisis has led to dwindling global demand, supply chains disruptions, declining people flows and a loss of investment confidence, all of which dragged Cambodia’s economic growth in 2020 down to minus 3.1 per cent.
In 2021, the February 20 community outbreak, coupled with the arrival of the Delta variant and a recent surge in imported cases, prompted the Kingdom to revise its economic growth forecast for 2021 to 2.4 per cent, down from 4.0 per cent at the beginning of the year, it said.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post that he was confident that the Kingdom’s economic situation would improve in the second half of this year, on the back of a fast-moving coronavirus vaccination campaign, despite the high quantities of daily Covid cases.
He said the government has also launched a series of new strategies to boost economic growth and find new markets for Cambodian exports. “I remain optimistic about Cambodia’s economic growth during this difficult time.”