About $150 million in remittances are sent home annually by the roughly 40,000 Cambodian migrant workers who have been placed in overseas jobs by migrant labor firms, according to the Labor Ministry.
Hou Vuthy, deputy director-general of the ministry’s general directorate, said yesterday that government records showed that about 40,000 Cambodians were currently employed in Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea and Japan.
Mr Vuthy said that, on average, migrant workers in Malaysia and Thailand earned between $150 and $200 a month, while those employed in South Korea and Japan earned between $800 and $1,000 a month.
“For all of these Cambodian workers who are working abroad, about $150 million was sent back every year,” he said, adding that it was the government’s policy to assist workers to work overseas legally to help their families.
“We are discussing targeting more places to send Cambodian workers, such as Kuwait, Canada and Singapore.”
The number of Cambodian migrant workers placed in employment by migrant labor firms, however, is dwarfed by the 335,000 Cambodian migrant workers estimated to be working abroad by the UNDP in its 2009 Human Development report.
Bruno Maltoni, Cambodian program manager for the International Organization for Migration, said yesterday that many Cambodian migrant workers found work abroad without going through brokers, which tended to charge a significant amount of money for their services.
In particular, Mr Maltoni said it was relatively easy for Cambodians to illegally cross the border in Thailand to seek work. Thai government statistics provided to the Bangkok-based Human Rights and Development Foundation in August showed that more than 55,000 Cambodians who illegally entered Thailand had been provided with an amnesty to continue working their until February 2012.
Mr Maltoni said that remittances were used differently by Cambodian families, depending on the backgrounds of the individual workers and their families.
“Speaking generally, remittances sent home by Cambodian workers who have gone through brokers are likely to be used for options such as developing businesses or purchasing land or properties,” he said, adding that illegal migrant workers were more likely to provide money to their families for more immediate needs like food and healthcare.