Local and international business communities in Cambodia have reported a sharp surge in optimism for the new year as the government prepares to begin the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines on February 10.
The Chinese government has pledged a donation of one million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to Cambodia at no cost. The first shipment of 600,000 doses arrived on February 7 and was received at Phnom Penh International Airport by Prime Minister Hun Sen together with Chinese ambassador Wang Wentian.
The jabs will be administered to people between the ages of 18-59 at four designated hospitals in Phnom Penh from February 10, according to a February 8 press release issued by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng lauded the government’s rollout plan, stressing how proactive it has been in implementing measures to prevent transmission of Covid-19.
“On behalf of the private sector, I appreciate in earnest the government’s efforts in bringing the Covid-19 vaccine to the people. While we are a small country, we are able to secure a vaccine for the people.
“The vaccine rollout goes according to the wishes of the private sector from the standpoint of Covid-19 disruption of business and production.
“The vaccination campaign will also be a key determinant in attracting more of the investors who have been hesitant to make a business trip here, and will also build investor confidence,” he said.
In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA Bank Plc, said the arrival of the jabs would not only have a crucial positive effect on the business environment, but will also foster an atmosphere of certitude and assurance and improve economic activities among the general public.
“I was glad to hear of the government’s plan to start vaccinating priority groups against Covid-19, such as journalists.
“It combines science and psychological insights to convince the public at large to maintain a positive attitude towards the business environment, and encourage them to do business as usual, as well as travel locally,” he said.
He said the campaign will help alleviate Covid-19 fears and prompt businesses to get back up on their feet and gradually move on, resuscitating international travel in the process.
“Economic policy does help those individuals and businesses impacted by Covid-19. The government is aware of which key industries to support so that they can survive and lend or extend their support to their beneficiaries or sub borrowers. Case in point, banks are the backbone of the economy,” Channy said.
Ly Virak, chairman of Westview Cambodian International School, noted that the Kingdom has proven to be one of the most effective at controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus.
As the world races to get vaccines into arms, he asserted that control of the virus’ spread has become a “thing of the past”.
“This is another vital mission that the Cambodian government must accomplish successfully, like it did controlling the virus.
“The plan can spur economic recovery, restore investor confidence now and in the future as well as improve our country’s image as one of the safest places at a time when the world is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, or during any crisis that Cambodia may encounter in the future,” Virak said.
Anthony Galliano, group CEO of renowned accounting and auditing firm Cambodia Investment Management, said the government’s plan is very aggressive and tactically astute.
He said the government was not only assertively and proactively containing any potential outbreak, but also now expeditiously vaccinating the population.
“I believe we can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel – in that the combination of one of the best records in the world in handling the pandemic management and rapid vaccination of the populace can result in controlled opening of the borders earlier than other countries,” Galliano said.
He said the vaccine campaign can facilitate investment in the Kingdom, resumption of projects, particularly in real estate and construction, and potentially usher in the reopening of tourism in bubbles, with a disciplined and restrictive start.
“Cambodia has the best record of pandemic management in the region and one of the best globally. As a consequence the government has comparably greatly mitigated the adverse economic impact.
“I am confident the Kingdom’s economy will emerge robustly and resume strong economic growth, with only a negligible two- to three-per-cent contraction in 2020,” Galliano said.
On February 1, the prime minister said Cambodia is seeking assistance from friendly nations and development partners to reserve 20 million vaccine doses to inoculate 10 million citizens. The Kingdom has already received pledges to provide 11 million doses, he said.