IMF Recognises Cambodian Government’s Responses to Pandemic

AKP Phnom Penh, The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recognised the Cambodian government’s training and cash-payments initiatives among measures to cope with COVID-19.

In a report released earlier this month, the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department describes the pandemic’s effects on the region as “stark” with shutdowns and collapsing demand causing widespread job losses.

“Some jobs may never return as the world adjusts to a new, post-COVID reality,” it says.

The report — entitled “Policy advice to Asia in the COVID-19 era” — says “nearly all” countries in the region have introduced new measures in response to COVID-19.

“For example, cash transfers have been given in more than half of the countries in the region,” it says. In some cases, they were unconditional. But in most cases, they were targeted – to low-income households, for example.

“Unemployment benefits have been expanded in Indonesia, and subsidised training introduced in Cambodia,” the report says.

In addressing future challenges, the IMF report notes that “capacity has been an issue.”

But middle-income countries — generally lacking mechanisms such as unemployment insurance — “have been most active in introducing new measures,” it says.

“Some countries with existing social assistance mechanisms (such as for healthcare) have been able to adapt them for income support.

“Cambodia, starting with very little in the way of social protection generally, has used a system designed to identify those living in poverty to deliver cash transfers.”

According to the report, fewer than 20 percent of countries in the Asia-Pacific region provided training support among new measures in response to the pandemic.

But three times as many — almost 60 percent of the countries in the region — provided cash transfers.

In an introduction to the report, editors Chang Yong Rhee and Katsiaryna Svirydzenka said “policymaking became exceptionally difficult” during the pandemic.

Asia is now at a “critical juncture,” they said, stressing the need to address current challenges and
“build the foundations for a more sustainable and inclusive future.”

The report focuses on four areas — adjusting to the COVID-19 shock, using unconventional policies when policy space is limited, dealing with debt, and helping the vulnerable and greening the recovery.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press