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$7m fund announced

$7m fund announced

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090403_14.jpg

With the economic downturn leaving more Cambodians jobless, the government says it is providing free training

Photo by: Sovann Philong

A woman looks at a job board in Phnom Penh. Jobless numbers are swelling as factories close.

THE government announced Wednesday that over 31 billion riels (US$7.6 million) would be spent to train workers laid off during the economic downturn.

Keat Chhon, deputy prime minister and minister of economy and finance, said at the National Assembly that the money would go towards training and other assistance.

The government also stressed increasing productivity, which he said is lagging compared with neighbouring countries.

"We are trying to enhance the ability of workers and entrepreneurs to improve productivity," he said.

"Cambodian workers need to be more productive to capitalise on their comparative advantages and compete in the international market," said Keat Chhon. A report by the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy stated that 82 factories closed in 2008, costing 52,000 jobs.

Heng Sour, director general of administration and finance at the Ministry of Labour said Thursday that the government had prepared a funding package to train workers facing job losses.

He said that candidates could qualify if they gave evidence of past employment, and demonstrated they were dismissed for cost-cutting reasons.

"Workers can attend the four-month training course free of charge and receive $40 for accommodation and food," said Heng Sour.

"We have three main categories: service, crafts and agriculture; and they will teach new skills for workers, so they can have different options for their careers," he said, adding that 9,420 workers will attend the course.

"We have not started the training courses yet because we are waiting to receive the government's special funding package. We hope we can use this money after the Khmer New Year," he said.

Kaing Monika, external affairs manager of the Garment and Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, applauded the government plan, saying it would help  mitigate the effects of the economic downturn.

"The government can train workers in new skills or upgrade their current skills to increase productivity because the garment sector can absorb these people when the economic crisis recovers," said Kaing Monika.

"It's good economic policy to absorb the unemployed."

This year to March, 13 GMAC-member factories closed, resulting in more than 6,000 jobs losses, said Kaing Monika.

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