June 22, 2022
PHNOM PENH – Over $3 billion has been spent by Cambodia to address the social and economic impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, in a bid to maintain stable socio-economic activity in the last two years, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
In its macroeconomic policy framework and public financial policy for the preparation of the draft 2023 Law on Financial Management report, the finance ministry said $824 million and $1.29 billion were used in 2020 and 2021, respectively, to implement emergency intervention measures.
An additional $989 million was allocated to implement the intervention measures in 2022.
The report, released on May 31, outlined the victory over the battle against Covid-19, thanks to 10 rounds of socio-economic intervention measures. These were aimed at supporting businesses and trading activities, preserving life, people’s livelihoods and increasing socio-economic resilience.
The ministry said the success of the national Covid-19 vaccination campaign, better control of the Covid-19 situation and a mild global Covid-19 trend allowed Cambodia to close the “February 20 community event” which occurred last year.
“[This was followed by] the reopening of the country, enabling the full resumption of domestic socio-economic activity from the end of 2021,” it said.
Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on June 20 that in more than two years since the Covid-19 outbreak, the government had rolled out targeted and “highly efficient” stimulus packages.
This is especially in relation to the purchase of vaccines, transferring cash directly to vulnerable people and suspended workers, and allocation of funds via state-owned Small and Medium Enterprise Bank of Cambodia Plc (SME Bank) and Agricultural and Rural Development Bank of Cambodia (ARDB) for affected businesses.
At the same time, some funds were also used for the construction and upgrading of infrastructure, as in that in Preah Sihanouk and Siem Reap provinces.
“Regarding the budget which was spent over the last two years, as far as I can see, it was prudently managed, which was according to the needs at the time.
“The government’s expenditure was used for the timely purchase of vaccines to ensure people have access to free vaccines so that the country can open quickly, and support the poor and vulnerable,” Vanak said.
He noted that the use of the budget was on target, which underscored the success of the Covid-19 administration, effectively reducing the infection and mortality rates.
Echoing Vanak, Anthony Galliano, CEO of financial services firm Cambodian Investment Management Co Ltd, said the government acted swiftly and practically, particularly following the “February 20 incident”.
Some of the actions, Galliano cited, were the implementation of the Covid-19 master plan and the reduction of government expenditure to offset an anticipated drop in revenue.
He said the spending was a directly targeted Covid-19 response, focusing on health, social, and economic sectors.
“The resilience and sustainability of the economy was substantially due to the success of the programme, particularly cash transfers for poor families and vulnerable people, co-financing and risk sharing through SME Bank, vocational training programmes and support for suspended contract workers, the credit guarantee fund and financing programmes and facilities.
“The superb success in vaccinations and dramatically low cases is a testament to the outbreak prevention and treatment for Covid-19 plan,” he said.
June 19 was the 44th day in which no new SARS-CoV-2 infections were recorded, according to a Ministry of Health report the following day, meaning that the Kingdom has been considered Covid-19 free since June 7.
So far, the total number of recorded coronavirus infections in Cambodia stands at 136,262, with 133,206 people recovered and 3,056 people perished.