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PM again dismisses 2009 GDP forecasts

PM again dismisses 2009 GDP forecasts

PRIME Minister Hun Sen on Monday dismissed recent GDP growth forecasts by international organisations, urging the population to concentrate on work rather than predictions on the Kingdom’s economic output for 2009.

Speaking Monday at an inauguration ceremony for a new Ministry of Tourism building in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen again predicted that the agricultural sector would flourish this year.

“Whatever the forecast is – positive or negative – it is not important because it is just a figure,” he said.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) last week projected that the agricultural sector would be one of the few bright spots for the Kingdom’s economy, forecasting 5 percent year-on-year growth for 2009.

But ADB and the International Monetary Fund both lowered their predictions last week for Cambodian growth in 2009, to 1.5 percent and 2.75 percent contractions respectively.

In contrast, the London-based Economic Intelligence Unit, which has traditionally pitched its forecasts below the ADB in particular, this month revised upwards its prediction for the economy from -3 percent to -1.5 percent for this year. It cited signs of a global recovery for the improved forecast.

Nevertheless, Hun Sen said, such predictions remain meaningless to most of the population.

“The most important issue is the people’s living conditions.... If they have enough water and food, if there are people that are dying from starvation or not,” said Hun Sen, adding that most Cambodians had not shown any interest in GDP forecasts previously, even when the Kingdom experienced double-digit growth in recent years.

Earlier this year the government predicted GDP growth of about 6 percent for 2009, although some officials have since said that the economy would likely expand at around half this level.

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