The Ministry of Economy and Finance on February 15 published a document establishing a series of internal goals, objectives, approaches and actions with a vision to 2030, to better align with the Royal Government of Cambodia’s (RGC) policies and strategies.

The document, whose name loosely translates to the “2030 Ministry of Economy and Finance Vision”, has been lauded as an important instrument to place Cambodia on the path to upper-middle income status.

At the accompanying launch ceremony on the same day, finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth said that the long-term strategic document would help bring ministry units to “full capacity” to fulfil the prescribed missions and join in RGC efforts to achieve its strategic goals for 2030.

“The vision set out in this document is to transform the Ministry of Economy and Finance into an institution of excellence with sufficient capacity and qualifications to fulfil the core and relevant missions associated with contributing to the achievement of the Royal Government’s vision,” he said.

The minister noted that the document sets two objectives, seven goals and 31 strategies as priorities, and that a specialised unit would be responsible for dealing with relevant matters.

The publicly available document describes Cambodia as a “new economic tiger” in Asia, noting that the economy had grown by around seven per cent each year – prior to Covid-19 – with gross domestic product (GDP) per capita at some $1,700 in 2019, and the poverty rate dropping to about 17 per cent today, compared to almost 100 per cent on January 7, 1979 – the day that the Khmer Rouge regime was overthrown.

Inflation is “manageable”, and the USD/KHR exchange rate “stable” at an average of “4,055”, it said, noting that these achievements bring opportunities for employment and earnings, as well as narrowing the income gap.

Meas Soksensan, finance ministry secretary of state and chairman of the team tasked with preparing the text, said the document was crafted based on government data, legal instruments, policies and related documents, and stressed that it would not universally supersede all other authorities.

He suggested that the document could also be considered as a foundation for the ministry to adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and other global transformations.

On January 25, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary of state Vongsey Vissoth revealed that the government had revised down its 2023 growth forecast for the Cambodian economy to 5.6 per cent versus the 6.6 per cent it put forth in October, citing uncertainty about global economic growth tied to the Ukraine conflict, climate change and the Covid-19 crisis.

For reference, the World Bank recognises Cambodia as a “lower-middle income” country – one rank below the “upper-middle income” designation – with gross national income (GNI) per capita of $1,551 for fiscal year 2021 (FY21) – the 12-month period ended June 30, 2021 – in nominal terms as calculated by the bank’s Atlas method.

In the current fiscal year 2023, group classifications are based on these calculations of FY21 GNI per capita, as follows: “low income” $1,085 or less; “lower-middle income” $1,086-4,255; “upper-middle income” $4,256-13,205; and “high income” $13,206 or more. The World Bank updates these thresholds each year on July 1.