Gavroche has selected for you some salient news in Cambodia during this past week. An essential overview of the news for anyone interested in this Southeast Asian country.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen recently allocated 30 million euros to three companies for demining ten provinces this year. The signing ceremony of the demining agreement in favor of the Cambodian Mine Action Fund 2025 between the mining authority and the three companies was chaired by Lieutenant General Hun Manet. Minister of State Ly Thuch, first vice-chairman of the Mining Authority, said the area the companies will clear will be more than 190 kilometers and that funds will come from partner countries and philanthropists.
Racial and religious differences are not an obstacle to the reconstruction and development of the country; therefore there is no need to force anyone to believe in any religion. The remarks were made by Prime Minister Hun Sen as he presided over the launch of the celebration of the centenary of the Gospel of Cambodia (1923-2023) at the Koh Pich Convention and Exhibition Center in Phnom Penh on Friday 27 January. The Royal Government of Cambodia is very proud of its people who adhere to solidarity and unity despite different religious beliefs, he said.
Olivier Becht, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade, Attractiveness and French Nationals Abroad, made an official visit to Cambodia on 24 and 25 January, which made it possible to reaffirm France’s commitment to ASEAN and to strengthen France-Cambodia economic cooperation. He was accompanied by a business delegation led by François Corbin, special representative for economic relations with ASEAN. The Minister and his delegation were received by Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Deputy Minister and Secretary General of the Council for the Development of Cambodia as well as the Ministers of Trade as well as Public Works and Transport. The Minister for Territorial Development, Urban Planning and Construction also chaired, with Olivier Becht, a ceremony to lay the first stone of the monument to the French and Cambodian dead of the First World War (erected in 1925 and destroyed by the Khmer Rouge in 1977). Many projects have been mentioned, which could mobilize the expertise of French companies in transport, energy or construction, not to mention the support of the financial sector. As a reminder, bilateral trade represents approximately EUR 1.4 billion/year, with a strong Cambodian surplus.
The banking sector in Cambodia recorded solid growth in 2022. Outstanding loans increased by 21.7% to reach USD 56 billion and deposits by 15.3% to USD 45 billion, according to the National Bank of Cambodia. Current assets of the banking system amounted to USD 80 billion (+15.9%). Fintech continues to grow, with 17.9M e-wallet accounts registered at the end of December 2022. The country has 58 commercial banks, 9 specialized banks and 86 microfinance institutions, with more than 2,600 headquarters and branches as well than nearly 4,000 ATMs across the kingdom. To date, 67% of the population has access to formal financial services, compared to 59% in 2021. We note, however, that this strong atomization of the sector can pose problems, in particular in terms of solidity in the face of bad debts and professionalism for the smallest institutions, despite central bank supervision.
China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) has carried out a feasibility study for a project to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway line (382 km). The work would take 4 years at a cost of more than 4 billion USD. The upgraded rail line will allow travel at a speed of 160 km/h, compared to just over 30 km/h currently. This project will be on the agenda of a meeting with the Ministry of Economy and Finance on January 30 to discuss the conditions for implementation. The government has repeatedly reaffirmed its intention to develop the railway sector in order to improve connectivity within the country and with the countries of the region (railway line between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom- Penh being part of a pan-ASEAN network for example).
Hun Sen called on all universities, both public and private, to do their best to improve the quality of teaching according to the abilities and credentials of graduates. At the graduation ceremony for more than 3,000 Western University students held on January 26, Hun Sen reiterated the need to work on the quality of education. At the same time, the Prime Minister also reiterated his initiative to provide support and scholarships to 1.5 million young people from poor and vulnerable families to build workforce capacity, and build dormitories for female students to promote gender equality in education.
The engineering unit of Cambodian blue helmets, which carries out peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic, has donated school supplies to orphans in a town in the country. The donation of school supplies and materials coincided with International Day of Education, January 24. They brought donations to 600 orphans in Bria, the capital of one of the prefectures of the Central African Republic (CAR).
Battambang authorities have resolved 373 land dispute cases since 2018. The Battambang provincial report indicates that authorities have registered about 536 land dispute cases. Of this figure, authorities have solved 242 cases and discarded about 131 cases. There are therefore 163 unresolved land disputes. He added that provincial authorities in Battambang are working to resolve 70 outstanding land disputes and are currently dealing with around 50 cases.
Cambodian Minister of Land, Urban Planning and Construction, Chea Sophara, recently assured that government policy on land dispute resolution will be followed and that the process will be fair, peaceful and non-discriminatory.
At least two Indonesian airlines are set to introduce direct flights, likely starting with one scheduled flight per week between Indonesia and Phnom Penh in the first quarter of this year. These would be Indonesia’s flag carrier Garuda and Air Asia Indonesia, while an airline registered in Cambodia is also expected to set up direct flights to Indonesia during the same period.
Cambodia welcomed the arrival of Chinese travelers on Friday (January 27th) after the world’s second-largest economy optimized its COVID-19 strategy earlier this month. A Ruili Airlines flight, carrying more than 100 passengers from Kunming, southwest China’s Yunnan Province, landed in Sihanoukville, southwest Cambodia on Friday morning, receiving a warm welcome local authorities. China was the largest source of foreign tourists to Cambodia in the pre-pandemic era, a Tourism Ministry report said, adding that the kingdom received 2.36 million Chinese tourists in 2019, generating about 1.8 billion dollars of revenue.
On January 27, Cambodia started the 100-day countdown to the 2023 SEA-ASEAN Para Games, which are scheduled to take place on May 5, 2023. Meanwhile, more than 20,000 security officers are ready to provide security during the 32nd SEA GAMES and 12th ASEAN PARA GAMES 2023, which Cambodia hosts. During a meeting to disseminate the plan for maintaining security and order during the 32nd SEA GAMES and 12th ASEAN PARA GAMES on Wednesday January 25, the National Police Chief, General Neth Savoeun, urged all the forces to ensure full security before and after the games.
The Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has preserved and restored 48 ancient buildings and 540 objects to continue promoting Cambodia’s cultural, civilizational and artistic heritage. This was revealed on January 26 during the opening ceremony of a meeting to review the achievements of the Cambodian ministry last year and the direction of this year’s new guidelines.
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