Ranariddh Frets Over Loss Of Jobs, Sluggish Economy

Noting that foreign direct in­vestment has dropped over the past few months, Prince Noro­dom Ranariddh expressed concern Wednesday about the state of the country’s economy.

Speaking in his role as co-chairman of the Council for the De­velopment of Cambodia, a position he assumed about three months ago and shares with Prime Minister Hun Sen, the prince said he was concerned about the loss of Cambodian jobs to other countries in the region.

“We have to do some research on why the economy is so slow,” Prince Ranariddh said. “We have seen some foreign investment move out of the country, especially to Vietnam.”

He pledged that the CDC would make foreign direct investment a priority. “We have to investigate why foreign investors are leaving our country, and then we will take action to improve the situation,” he said. Prince Ranariddh blamed the yearlong political deadlock for the government’s inability to take more timely action to remedy the situation.

A report released in September and published by the World Bank identified Cambodia as one of the most difficult places in the world to start up a business, due to corruption, bureaucratic delays and regulatory burdens.

Kang Chandararot, an economist with the Cambodia Develop­ment Resource Institute, said Wednesday that it would be premature to assess the economic performance of the new government. “We don’t currently have the data to make a judgment,” he said. He said that the situation would be clearer in another few months, but right now, the economic situation is still fairly bleak.

In 2005 and 2006, Cambodia should expect some rough economic times as the country tries to adapt to its membership in the World Trade Organization and its new position in the global economy, Kang Chandararot said.

But after that transition period, economic momentum should pick up, fueled by domestic initiatives and investment, he added.

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