Concerns over the spread of coronavirus have severely damaged Cambodia’s economy, with the country’s important tourism, export, and construction sectors especially hard hit, the World Bank said in a new report on Friday.
These three sectors together account for more than 70 percent of Cambodia’s economic growth and about 40 percent of its paid employment, the World Bank said in its latest economic update for the Southeast Asian nation, Cambodia in the Time of COVID-19.
“As a result, [Cambodia’s] economy is expected to register its slowest growth since 1994, contracting by between -1 percent and -2.9 percent,” the World Bank said, adding that poverty among affected households could increase between 3 to 11 percentage points higher than in the years before the virus spread.
At least 1.76 million jobs in Cambodia are now at risk, according to the report.
“The global shock triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted Cambodia’s economy,” Inguna Dobraja, Cambodia Country Manager for the World Bank said, urging that policies be quickly put in place in Cambodia to provide economic relief and protect public health.
“The World Bank is committed to helping Cambodia deal effectively with the COVID-19 crisis and strengthen the economy for recovery and future resilience,” Dobraja said.
Cambodian Ministry of Economy spokesman Meas Soksensan said that the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic will restore normalcy to the economy, but that the government is also taking measures of its own.
“It is up to the government measures that we are implementing now through 2021 and 2022,” he said.
“We will then find any possibility to see if we can inject more cash [into the economy], and if we don’t have enough resources we will look into debt,” Soksensan said, adding that he thinks Cambodia’s debt levels are manageable.
To date, 124 cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed in Cambodia.
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.