Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gov’t eyes 7% poverty rate

Gov’t eyes 7% poverty rate

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A Cambodian woman street vendor pushes her cart as she walks past construction workers in Chroy Changvar district of Phnom Penh in March, 2022. Hong Menea

Gov’t eyes 7% poverty rate

The government will redouble efforts to reduce Cambodia’s poverty rate to a level at or below seven per cent in the near future to continue the nation’s recent record of progress, from at least 50 per cent in the 1990s to below 10 per cent before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

Meas Soksensan, secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said the government had strived to help the poor and vulnerable prior to Covid-19 and continued to do so during the pandemic to get them out of poverty. He was speaking at an August 2 press conference to highlight the ministry’s five-year achievements.

During the pandemic, around 700,000 households were provided with direct assistance, totalling about 2.7 million people. Over the past 25 months, the total budget provided to the poor and vulnerable has been $744 million, with some expenditures ongoing.

“What the government has been doing since the 1990s – when the poverty rate was over 50 per cent – brought the rate down to around 10 per cent by 2015, though it has soared again due to the pandemic.

“However, the [cash assistance and other support programmes] from the government have already contributed to poverty reduction and we are optimistic about the impacts of this support. Because we have experience in making the poverty rate drop in the past from over 50 to merely 10 per cent, we are optimistic that we can get the rate to drop to just seven per cent in the near future,” he said.

Soksensan also said that the relief package for the poor and vulnerable citizenry had also helped with economic growth of between 0.45 and 0.55 per cent while also reducing the poverty rate by 2.5 to three per cent.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Meas Soksensan, secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, was speaking at an August 2 press conference to highlight the ministry’s five-year achievements. Heng Chivoan

The government, through the finance ministry, had to maintain its policy of providing financial aid packages to help small and medium enterprises for the vulnerable sectors along with continuing support for poor people, he said.

In April, Ministry of Planning secretary of state Tuon Thavoreak said Cambodia’s poverty rate had increased by four per cent to reach 17 per cent over the 2019-2020 period, due in large part to the global health crisis.

He said Cambodia’s poverty rate had dropped significantly – from 47 per cent in 2007 to 22 per cent in 2009 – and had continued to fall to 13 per cent in 2014, which raised the Kingdom up to lower-middle-income status in 2015.

Socio-economic study data from 2019-2020 showed that the poverty rate increased to 17.8 per cent, largely due to the worldwide economic slowdown and increase in poverty as a result of the pandemic, he added.

Yong Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, said it was praiseworthy for the government to help the poor and vulnerable hit hard by the pandemic as many of them had fallen back below the poverty line.

However, to make the poverty rate drop to just seven per cent as the government wished, they need to focus their support on the correct targets and implement their measures transparently, or they will ultimately fail to reach their goals.

“The only way the government is going to achieve its goals is by helping those who have already fallen into poverty climb out of the hole the pandemic put them in as we move forward post-Covid. Then, perhaps, a poverty rate of seven per cent could be reached,” he said.

Finance ministry undersecretary of state Chan Narith, who also serves as secretary-general of the National Social Protection Council (NSPC), said the NSPC has four main goals in social protection: Ensuring income security; reducing the poverty and vulnerability rates; reducing social inequality; and supporting economic growth.

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Final verdicts for Khmer Rouge leaders ‘vital’ for next generation

    Nearly a decade after the commencement of Case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan back in 2014, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is now set to deliver its final verdict for the former Khmer Rouge head of state. The Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC,

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a