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PM: Join hands to lift post-Covid economy

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An ambulance drives past a billboard instructing the public to wear face masks in central Phnom Penh's Daun Penh district on Wednesday. Heng Chivoan

PM: Join hands to lift post-Covid economy

Leaders in the region and beyond must advance various forms of bilateral and multilateral cooperative relations, and join hands to create meaningful traction in economic recoveries for when the spread of the novel coronavirus eases to a significant enough degree, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The prime minister made the remark at the Communist Party of China and World Political Parties Summit late in the evening of July 6 via video link.

He underscored that the Covid-19 pandemic ranks as a historic event, and requires all countries and political parties around the world to join hands for humanity.

“Once the Covid-19 crisis moderates, preparations for a socio-economic recovery will prove a monumental task that cannot be taken lightly.

“In this sense, it will require enhancements in bilateral and multilateral mechanisms such as the Belt and Road Initiative, which is a significant win-win development strategy that champions socio-economic progress and prosperity in the region and the globe, by enriching investment and trade flows.

“I reiterate my full support for the Belt and Road Initiative, as it will bring prosperity and happiness for the people in all countries along the initiative’s corridors, against the backdrop of socio-economic recovery for the post-Covid-19 era,” Hun Sen said.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post on July 7 that even as it contends with a deepening Covid-19 emergency, the Kingdom has donated millions of face masks to other countries in the region, as an act of humanity and in the spirit of regional and global harmony.

“A combined effort from leaders all over the region and the world is paramount in the fight against the spread of Covid-19, towards reopening economies.

“I concur with the prime minister’s remarks. If we don’t join hands to fight and contain the coronavirus, we cannot reopen economies – and equally important is the deployment of fast vaccination programmes,” he said.

A World Bank report released last month noted that Cambodia had successfully contained the spread of the coronavirus until a new outbreak began in the first quarter of this year.

Cambodia was among the countries with the fewest coronavirus cases in Asia, the Washington-based multilateral lender said, noting that the Kingdom began its vaccination programme on February 10.

“In response, the authorities have intensified contact tracing by identifying all people that a Covid-19 patient has come in contact with, opened up new quarantine facilities, increased the number of hospitals to treat the rising number of coronavirus patients, and procured for additional medical equipment and ambulances,” the bank said.

The prime minister also said on July 6 that another four million doses of Sinovac Biotech Ltd’s coronavirus vaccine would touch down in Cambodia on July 10.

And the Kingdom is scheduled to receive an additional batch of four million doses next month, he said.

“The number of vaccines Cambodia will have received, counting those in July and August, will total about 20 million, as per the government’s plan,” he said.

As of July 5, Cambodia had vaccinated nearly 4.6 million people – including foreigners – nearly half of the targeted 10 million, a goal now believed to be achievable by October or early November.

The World Bank on June 17 projected Cambodia’s economic growth to accelerate to 4.0 per cent this year after contracting 3.1 per cent in 2020, thanks to a fast rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and the revitalisation of global demand.

However, the bank also offered a downside scenario, in which the jab drive loses too much steam and is accompanied by frequent, prolonged and nationwide lockdowns.

Under this scenario, the economy is projected to grow by just 1.0 per cent in 2021, it said.

The Cambodian government recently announced its ninth round of economic relief measures, which is centred on the worst Covid-hit sectors – garments, textiles, footwear, bags, travel goods and tourism.

The Post reported in March that the government has allocated nearly $2 billion to stave off the spread of the virus and to address the economic impact on key sectors through multiple rounds of stimulus packages.

The government allocated $1.164 billion in 2020 and has earmarked $719 million for this year.

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