SRP, HRP Want Minister To Brief NA on Economy

Citing tumbling prices for agricultural produce and somber growth forecasts, the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties Tues­day requested that Finance Min­ister Keat Chhon appear before the Na­tional Assembly and challenged the government to announce an economic stimulus plan.

In a request sent Tuesday to Assembly President Heng Samrin, SRP lawmaker Son Chhay noted that earlier this month Sam Rainsy proposed a $500 million economic stimulus package and asked that Keat Chhon appear to answer questions about bolstering Cam­bodia’s economic performance.

In a separate statement ad­dres­s­ed to Prime Minister Hun Sen by the SRP and HRP, which recently formed the Move­ment for Dem­ocratic Change coalition, the parties cast doubt on whether the government is prepared to respond to changing economic conditions.

Development agencies have forecast economic growth of as little as 5 percent in 2009, while the prices of rice, corn, soy, potatoes, cassava and rubber all dropped sharply in late 2008. On falling demand, the price of rice dropped by as much as 75 percent between April and December.

“In order to restore farmers’ living standards…and prevent prices from dropping, does the government have any plan or measure to resolve the problem?” the statement asked, noting that stimulus packages have been adopted or proposed in China, India, Indo­ne­sia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.

Neither Keat Chhon nor ministry spokesman and Secretary of State Aun Porn Moniroth could be reached for comment. However, CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, chairman of the Assembly banking and finance commission, said the government planned to use $300 million in funds earmarked for disaster management to help spur economic growth.

The details of the policy have not yet been agreed on, he added.

“Sam Rainsy remains outside the government. He doesn’t know anything. It is up to Samdech Hun Sen to take measures against the financial crisis,” Cheam Yeap said. “The government doesn’t need to be advised,” he added.


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