Rainsy claims thousands of jobs lost in financial crisis.
OPPOSITION leader Sam Rainsy has called on the government to set aside a US$500 million economic stimulus package to offset the local effects of the world financial slump, claiming "tens of thousands" of Cambodian jobs have been lost to the global crisis.
In a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen, Sam Rainsy said the government was underestimating the effects of the global upheavals, petitioning the prime minister to organise a $500 million relief package to go towards maintaining agricultural prices, building much-needed infrastructure and making low-interest loans available to the needy.
"I would like to request the government to consider the appropriate measures in order to support economic activity and help Cambodia avoid the worst of the economic crisis," he said in the letter, which was delivered to the premier by National Assembly First Deputy President Nguon Nhel on Saturday.
Sam Rainsy added that the national budget for 2009 contained no means of relieving the economic impacts of the global crisis.
Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, said the financial crisis was having serious effects in rural areas of the Kingdom, where falling commodity prices had driven down standards of living.
"Many Cambodian people in the countryside are having problems with reduced food. This is affecting the health of the people," he told the Post.
He added that the garment sector had been hit hard by the global downturn and that many willing workers were being turned away. "Now there is reduced work, and they don't have enough money to live," he said. "I think every country should have the funds for an economic crisis."
But Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the government reserved funds in every annual budget for unforeseen circumstances.
"We have a reserve budget, not only for the global economic crisis but also for other disasters such as floods, and so forth," he said Sunday, but added he could not remember the exact amount set aside in 2009.
"Sam Rainsy should be able to address this. He is a parliamentarian, so he must know about it."