The government on December 22 launched the “The Strategic Framework and Programmes for Economic Recovery in the Context of Living with Covid-19 in a New Normal 2021-2023”, aimed at spurring resilient socio-economic growth in the medium and long term.

Speaking at the launch, Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth heralded the document as an important basis and roadmap for the immediate- and medium-term implementation of government strategies and specific actions.

The document aims to restore and bolster Cambodia’s economic growth back to its potential rate, and strengthen resilience for sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development in the long run.

Pornmoniroth said: “In the last two years of Covid-19, we’ve all clearly been able to notice the negative consequences on the socio-economic situation in Cambodia stemming from this crisis.

“In addition to threatening to take the lives of the people, the crisis has exposed some of the fragile points of Cambodia’s economic base that are vulnerable to external factors.”

Supply chain disruptions and a slowdown in orders for Cambodian products catalysed by the introduction of health and administrative measures by countries around the world are a testament that the stability of Cambodia’s economic growth poles is closely related to regional and global economic trends, he explained.

Ministry of Economy and Finance undersecretary of state Huot Pum asserted that the vision for the formal implementation of the document is to strengthen the building of a solid path and injecting strong vitality for socio-economic development, to seize opportunities at home and abroad to strengthen and diversify the national economic base to gain a highly competitive edge, and to improve the wellbeing of Cambodians in the “new normal” of development.

The document is also tailored “to support the implementation of the strategic framework, the rehabilitation and growth policy programmes, set out a detailed action plan for implementation within each of the three pillars [rehabilitation, reform and resilience building] as well as to define responsibilities for ministries and institutions and implementation times”, he said.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath said the implementation of the document was another new strategy to drive socio-economic growth in a life with Covid-19.

He explained that although Covid-19 continues in the country, the economy can still function with an economic management system in the context of the pandemic. By the same vein, the government will continue providing tax exemptions to tourism and other key sectors for a while, in a bid to revitalise them and propel them to boost national economic growth.

The finance minister went on to say that the government will also focus on work designed to maintain the stability of people’s livelihoods and Covid-hit private businesses, by launching and enhancing the implementation of specific intervention measures, following 10 rounds of economic relief measures.

“To assist poor and vulnerable families in meeting living expenses, the Royal Government will continue to implement cash support programmes … for another nine months until the end of September 2022,” Pornmoniroth said.

He added that the government will continue to provide tax breaks as set out in the previous rounds of relief measures for the first half of 2022, to provide additional support to the Covid-bruised tourism and aviation industries, as well as related businesses, as domestic and international tourism emerges from the pandemic.

The government has also set aside $250 million for direct loans from the state-owned Small and Medium Enterprise Bank of Cambodia Plc (SME Bank) and Rural Development Bank of Cambodia (ARDB) next year, which will have competitive interest rates of five-to-5.5 per cent for key priority sectors like agriculture and ecotourism.