A new “cold war” between the world’s superpowers, international conflicts and the Covid-19 crisis have exerted downward pressure on the Cambodian and global economic architecture, driving a major surge in the number of people engaged in the informal economy.

This is according to a press release on a discussion on “Uplifting the Informal Economy after the Covid-19 Crisis”, hosted by Youth for Motherland on July 10 to address a perceived lack of support for informal workers.

The event was also attended by government officials, as well as experts and representatives of research institutions and relevant organisations, along with other stakeholders.

Participants commented that although the worst of the threats from Covid-19 have passed, knock-on economic consequences of international rows have driven a “significant and worrisome” number of Cambodians from the formal economy into the informal economy.

Youth for Motherland president Hor Sereyvath pointed out that issues raised by members of various associations who are in the informal economy tend to be related to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and its benefits, which are not accessible to everyone.

He said that there are no clear guidelines to effectively define or assess the informal economy, which has resulted in a lack of concrete reports on the number of people involved.

“After this discussion, we have a common will, which is to help the people working in the informal economy, to ask the top leaders to help solve the problems and concerns that they encounter, in particular, the NSSF benefits,” Sereyvath said.

Samheng Boros, Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation secretary of state and National Social Assistance Fund (NSAF) chairman, commented that the NSAF reaches about three million people, or around 700,000 households, providing $40 of state funds per household each month.

“If we combine all the other institutions’ help, at least four million people are receiving support from the government.”

“We want to open more opportunities for the inclusion of [workers in the] informal economy who are also registered as members of the NSSF,” he said.