The new Cambodian government led by Prime Minister Hun Manet has launched its “Pentagonal Strategy-Phase I”, which serves as a roadmap to achieving the Kingdom’s vision of becoming a high-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income one by 2050.
Addressing his first Cabinet meeting at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on August 24, Manet said the strategy – with its focus on economic growth, job creation, equity, efficiency and sustainability – will direct the activities of all stakeholders as they continue to build on the “momentum of peace and accumulation of past achievements”. It will build a foundation for sustainable development through targeted reforms across all sectors.
It follows the earlier Triangular and Rectangular strategies implemented over the past 25 years by previous government mandates. The first – Triangular Strategy – had one phase and was followed by four phases of the Rectangular Strategy, making the Pentagonal Strategy-Phase I the sixth to be executed thus far.
Praise for past strategies
Manet described the previous strategies as delivering major achievements in all areas, including politics and socio-economy, thus enabling Cambodia to renew its image on the world stage. He regards them as key stages in the cycle of nation building that focuses on restoring and rebuilding the country in the post-war period.
Through the strategies, Cambodia has developed from a war-torn nation once known for its killing fields, minefields and insecurity, to a peaceful and independent sovereign state with political stability and the rule of law, in accordance with the principles of a liberal multi-party democracy.
They have also allowed the once politically and economically embargoed and isolated nation to fully integrate itself into regional and global structures and architectures, and contribute to maintaining world order as well as safeguarding peace in the region and beyond.
“Through the strategies, millions of Cambodian people have been lifted out of poverty and enjoy decent livelihoods, education and better welfare as well as significantly increased life expectancy,” he said.
He explained that thanks to the previous strategies, the Kingdom, which was once plagued by chronic cash shortage crises and relied almost entirely on international aid for survival, now enjoys full financial autonomy and ownership of determining its own future and fate.
“The Triangular Strategy and the Four-Phase Rectangular Strategy have played a prominent role as Cambodia’s Socio-Economic Development Policy Agenda,” he said.
“These Strategies have been instrumental in transforming Cambodia into a lower middle-income country within a short period of time, one with high economic growth and rapid poverty reduction, as well as successful regional and global integration,” he added.
What to expect for Pentagonal Strategy
“The next 25 years will be a new cycle for Cambodia. The country aspires to take its national pride to the heights it enjoyed during the Angkor era, by building a nation that is strong, vital, glorious and prosperous towards a high-income country by 2050,” he announced.
Manet explained that the new strategy has been adopted to boost growth, create jobs, ensure equity, increase efficiency and maintain sustainability. It is forward-looking for the next 25 years, and has been designed to be implemented in five successive phases. It will align with the political platform of the government for the coming mandates, while being adjusted to the real-world context of the country, the region and the world.
“It will focus on practical needs, such as the need to continue strengthening and expanding the achievements from the previous mandate, institutional and governance reform, developing human capital, enhancing economic diversification and competitiveness, and launching a comprehensive Socio-Economic Policy Agenda,” he said.
How the strategy will be accomplished
Manet explained that Phase I of the strategy has two missions: Safeguard and nurture the Kingdom’s hard-won peace and strengthen the foundations needed to accelerate national development, in order to achieve the milestone of becoming an upper middle-income country by 2030.
He listed five strategic objectives: ensuring crisis-resilient annual economic growth of around 7 per cent on average; creating more jobs; achieving the poverty reduction target of below 10 per cent and keeping the poverty rate to a minimum level; strengthening governance capacity and improving the quality of public institutions; and ensuring sustainable socio-economic development while building resilience to climate change.
According to Manet, the five sides of the Pentagonal Strategy include human capital development, economic diversification and competitiveness enhancement, development of the private sector and employment in a resilient sustainable manner, and the development of a digital economy and society.
He also listed six priority programmes that will be implemented this year. They include healthcare services towards universal health coverage, providing vocational and technical training for youths from poor and at-risk households, and institutionalising the national social assistance programmes for impoverished households.
Manet’s mandate will also enact the Informal Economy Development Strategy, which aims to integrate informal workers into the formal economy. It will introduce coordination mechanisms and financing programmes aimed at promoting production, market access, and price stability for key agricultural products. Agricultural technical officers will be deployed to all communes and districts.
He noted that the new government has also identified challenges. He believes they can be addressed by strengthening the capabilities of public administration, improving the quality of education, improving health services, strengthening the “Safe Village-Commune Policy”, and strengthening and enhancing the quality and efficiency of the justice system.
Ensuring effective implementation of the strategy
According to Manet, the effective implementation of the strategy is ensured, thanks to coordination, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.
He designated the Council of Ministers as the government’s primary coordinating institution that would oversee its implementation.
In order to achieve this, he instructed the Council of Ministers to draft, as soon as possible, regulations that would outline in detail the methodologies and procedures to coordinate, monitor and evaluate the implementation of phase I of the Pentagon Strategy.
“For the implementation of priorities that are inter-ministerial or inter-sectoral in nature, the government will appoint competent inter-ministerial committees or councils to oversee and coordinate such matters,” he said.
Manet made it clear that his government strongly believes in its ability to overcome any challenges, obstacles or crises, and lead Cambodian society towards greater development, progress and prosperity. He called on his compatriots to join hands and work together to ensure that the first phase of the strategy is achieved.
Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, saw the new government’s strategy as a response to the current demands, including pushing economic growth, growing the job market, ensuring equity and equality, and building on past achievements.
Nevertheless, he noted that a strategy can only be effective if it is implemented well.
“Achieving the ambitious 2050 goal will require the successful application of the Pentagonal Strategy and its priorities, regardless of changing geopolitical circumstances,” he said.
“I have also seen in the news that more secretary and undersecretary of state positions have been created. We hope they will accelerate the implementation of the strategy,” he added.
He urged each of the new members of all state institutions to work together to achieve the Kingdom’s 2050 vision, rather than accepting a position for their own personal benefit.