Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Oxfam: Inequality on decline



Oxfam: Inequality on decline

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The report says Cambodia has made progress in key areas despite the pandemic. Hean Rangsey

Oxfam: Inequality on decline

A report released by Oxfam on October 26 stated that Cambodia has made progress in its efforts to reduce inequality in three key areas – public services, tax collection, and workers’ rights and wages – even with the Kingdom facing the Covid-19 crisis.

The Global Inequality Index 2020 ranks the Kingdom eighth out of the 10 ASEAN member states, with Cambodia rising to 111th out of 158 countries this year from 121st in 2018.

“In 2018, the index ranked Cambodia at 121 out of 158 countries, and today Cambodia has climbed to 111. The increase in rank demonstrates the positive progress that Cambodia has made in policies on public services, tax and workers’ rights. These are three areas that are essential to reducing inequality and weathering the Covid-19 storm,” Oxfam said.

The report continued that among lower-middle income countries, Cambodia has established itself as one of the leading nations on taxation policies, showing increased progressivity, particularly on personal income tax.

It said that regarding labour rights and the minimum wage, despite improvements in the minimum wage, it remains relatively low when compared to other countries in the region, such as Myanmar or Thailand, and the cost of living.

Concerning investment in public services, including spending on healthcare and social protection, Cambodia ranked comparatively low, maintaining a similar position to 2018, the report added.

“In the last few decades, Cambodia has made tremendous progress in poverty reduction lifting millions of people out of extreme poverty. This exemplary achievement was possible by a combination of economic development efforts and increasing public service delivery to the poorest communities,” it said.

The Covid-19 outbreak, it added, “has highlighted new challenges for the Royal Government of Cambodia [RGC]; to contain the pandemic on the one hand, and to respond to its economic impacts on the other hand”.

“The RGC has already generated incredible momentum to drive social development, and there is confidence that further investment in social protection will enable it to promote more inclusive and shock-responsive coverage for its citizens for years to come,” the report said.

Ministry of Economy and Finance spokesman Meas Soksensan told The Post on October 27 that the government has made great efforts to keep the poor away from the poverty gap, with the government addressing the issue in a timely manner, especially during the Covid-19 crisis.

“When there is a crisis, there are many people who fall into poverty, but the government has tried not to widen the poverty gap. At the same time, our ministry has considered everything regarding the national budget to alleviate the social gap, although it is inevitable that there will be a social gap.

“Despite reductions in various areas in the national budget package this year, we did not reduce social protection. The government is very concerned about this issue,” Soksensan said.

Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun on October 27 said while he acknowledged the government’s efforts in improving these three key areas, they were still limited, such as fully meeting the cost of public services.

“We found that it had been okay, but after the outbreak the government reduced public service budgets by up to 50 per cent, which has severely affected the ability to provide services to people, such as education in both urban and rural areas,” Chanroeun said.

Chanroeun added that on workers’ rights, despite many developments and improved conditions, some workers faced the risk of losing their jobs due to the effects of Covid-19 and the suspension of certain parts of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme.

“The solution is for the government to find ways to maintain the market for factory workers, especially by not losing EBA,” Chanroeun said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Cambodia at ‘most critical moment’, Hun Sen warns

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the first community transmission of Covid-19 in Cambodia has led the country to the “most critical moment” that warranted urgent, large-scale operations to contain the pandemic. Hun Sen, who confirmed the first local transmission on November 28, said the source of

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there