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Flooding could affect growth

A man sits in a hammock after his house was flooded in Battambang’s Beung Tem village in Sangke district
A man sits in a hammock after his house was flooded in Battambang’s Beung Tem village in Sangke district earlier this month. Vireak Mai

Flooding could affect growth

When the extent of flood damage becomes clear, the Asian Development Bank may lower its economic growth forecast for Cambodia to reflect the severity of the aftermath, a senior official with the agency’s local office said yesterday.

“It is possible that we will have to revise downward once we get more information,” ADB country director for Cambodia Eric Sidgwick said, cautioning that though it was still too early to understand the scope of the problem, “we are closely monitoring this”.

On October 2, the ADB kept the rate steady at 7.2 per cent. It also said that in 2014, growth is expected to pick up to 7.5 per cent as recovery catches on in European and US markets.

Speaking at the Dara Airport Hotel for the launch of a semi-annual report on Asian economic integration, Sidgwick said that new figures would depend on the degree to which rising waters affect infrastructure.

“We will have to see which roads have been damaged and where, what is their impact on trade and what is that impact on growth,” he said.

The ADB estimated that the cost of damage caused by mass floods in 2011 was $624 million. More than half of that was to roads and bridges.

Sidgwick allayed concerns over long-lasting damage to the economy this year by comparing the situation to 2011, when flooding and resulting financial costs did not ultimately make a huge dent in growth. He pointed out that the rebuilding process may have actually triggered a boost in infrastructure.

“So even though there may be a dip, any dip would probably be temporary and the spill-over effects might actually be positive,” he said.

But initial estimates aren’t. The National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) on Wednesday put the total cost of property damage from this year’s floods at $1 billion.

The figure takes into account destruction inflicted on dams, water reservoirs, irrigation systems, national roads and other infrastructure.

Nhim Vanda, first vice president of the NCDM, said that the financial harm was “serious” and, that the costs and the geographical breadth of the problem far exceeded 2011.

“After the flood recedes, our job is restoration,” he said.

The NCDM’s latest report shows that 168 people have died and hundreds of thousands of rice fields have been affected.

Some 241,900 kilometres of national road were damaged in addition to about 142,900 kilometres of streets and pathways.

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