Hun Sen Boosts GDP Figures

Prime Minister Hun Sen, citing “revised” economic data, said Cam­bodia’s gross domestic product was much higher than had been previously reported.

Speaking before more than 250 foreign investors, business leaders and officials at a conference of investment and trade Wednes­day, Hun Sen said Cambodia’s GDP grew 7.7 percent in 2000 and 6.3 percent in 2001 despite pre­­vious reports by the Asian Development Bank stating that GDP growth was 5.3 percent in 2000 and 4.5 percent in 2001.

“I am pleased to inform you that the National Institute of Sta­tistics, Ministry of Planning, with technical assistance from the Asian Development Bank, has re­vised the macroeconomic data for Cam­bodia and released an en­cour­aging report on economic per­formance over the last years,” Hun Sen said in a prepared speech.

“[The prime minister’s] numbers are too high,” said one ADB official who helped prepare economic data used in the annual growth reports. The official, however, said Hun Sen’s real growth figures might be higher because the government did not include statistics from the Fisheries De­partment when they compiled their data previously.

On Wednesday, Hun Sen said supporting foreign investment and the private sector are top priorities for 2003, and would be the “catalyst of development and the engine of economic growth.”

Given the importance of the private sector, the government is paying “special attention” to create laws “ensuring fair competition, transparency and ac­count­ability of the private sector” in hopes the laws will fuel foreign and private sector investment.

Hun Sen also said that private investment in Cambodia would increase economic growth, which would reduce the country’s need for international donor assistance.

Christopher Muessel, based in Ho Chi Minh City for the law firm Baker and McKenzie, told The Associated Press Wednesday that many of his clients are “watching Cambodia closely” but added that “it’s still too early” for most of them to want to do business here.

(Additional reporting by Kim Chan)


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