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Progress on jab drive, Covid control key to recovery: NBC

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National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto at an online roundtable meeting between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and ASEAN, on Friday. NBC

Progress on jab drive, Covid control key to recovery: NBC

The national coronavirus vaccination campaigns will be the key to unlock a speedy economic recovery, with the proper allocation and effective use of resources to support the control of the Covid-19 crisis as a major driving force behind the Kingdom’s emergence from the pandemic, according to National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto on October 15.

He made the remark at an online roundtable meeting between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and ASEAN which was attended by the bloc’s central bank governors and finance ministers.

Chanto noted that amid the Covid-19 crisis, the IMF increased its special drawing rights (SDR) allocation to strengthen trust and increase the scope of economic policy.

SDRs are an interest-bearing international reserve asset based on a basket of international currencies, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement other reserve assets of member countries. SDRs can be held by Cambodia on account with the IMF as part of its foreign reserve assets or exchanged with other IMF member countries for hard currencies.

SDRs are used by the IMF as stimulus for the global economy. They are not a loan that needs to be repaid and their use is solely and unconditionally decided by the receiving countries.

Chanto also agreed with IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva and the ASEAN financial leaders on the importance of vaccination against Covid-19 in the post-pandemic recovery process, as well as the continued adjustment of policy and supports to provide more space for the resumption of economic activities, while simultaneously snuffing out the spread of the novel coronavirus.

He noted that that well over 80 per cent of the estimated 16 million national population had received a first dose of a Covid-19 jab, exceeding the IMF’s recommendations of 40 per cent by end-2021 and 70 per cent by end-2022 “to support economic recovery”.

Presiding over another event on October 18, Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth noted that the government had ramped up inoculations among all age groups 6 years and older, and was offering boosters for the 18-and-over, in a bid to blunt the impact of Covid on the society and economy.

“As a result of efforts to implement administrative and health measures effectively, especially the Prime Minister’s Six-Point Strategy to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, Cambodia will soon reach herd immunity, which is a necessary foundation for the full-scale, sustainable reopening of socio-economic activity.

“With this consideration in mind, [the government] has been facilitating the reopening and resumption of some key sectors toward living with Covid-19 in the ‘new normal’,” he said.

To achieve this end, the government “plans to launch the ‘Strategy for Rehabilitation and Promotion of Economic Growth for Living with Covid-19 under the New Normal’ by the end of 2021, to rehabilitate national development with a focus on resilience, sustainability and inclusiveness”, the minister said.

The IMF earlier said the Cambodian economy could be expected to grow by around two per cent this year and five per cent in 2022 with extensive government support and a recovery in external demand.

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