Prime Minister Hun Manet on October 10 unveiled the National Strategy for Informal Economic Development 2023-28, aiming to alleviate poverty, reduce social inequality, bolster socio-economic resilience and stimulate economic growth.

Manet emphasised the strategy’s intent to not only enhance protection and resilience within the unregulated sector but also to bolster participation, trade and investment, ultimately improving the populace’s living standards.

“Achieving better livelihoods in the informal economy allows us to meet three key objectives: to reduce poverty and inequality, strengthen our economic resilience and spur national growth,” he stated.

Manet said the government does not solely rely on theoretical models or foreign documents for policy formulation. Instead, it uses practical experiences and concrete measures, adapted to the available budget, ensuring tangible results for the citizens.

A primary challenge identified by Manet is registering individuals in the informal economy, a sector where many remain out of the government’s purview. However, with proper registration, these individuals can benefit from a suite of developmental tools and resources.

He assured citizens that their involvement in these developments would be voluntary, stressing that they offer multiple benefits such as penalty waivers, previous non-compliance tax forgiveness and various tax incentives.

He added that individuals in the informal economy would gain access to training in enterprise management and skill development to enhance productivity.

Minister of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation Hem Vandy detailed the initial phase of the strategy’s implementation, identifying priority sectors and occupations.

These encompass a diverse range, from wholesale enterprises, accommodation services and artisanal communities to professions like construction, entertainment and transportation services, including tuk-tuk and taxi drivers. Other sectors include market vendors, artists, journalists, street sellers and agricultural workers.

He described the strategy’s vision as transforming the unofficial economy into a strong, sustainable and crisis-resilient sector that significantly improves livelihoods.

“The informal economy’s growth and integration are pivotal for sustainable, inclusive and robust development,” he added.

Vorn Pov, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), lauded the government’s efforts.

He highlighted that those working within the sector had long awaited such attention, as they had been largely overlooked.

He voiced hopes for the government’s efficient policy implementation, stressing the importance of comprehensive execution.

“It’s vital that the policy reaches all sub-national officials, ensuring its effective implementation to meet the needs of everyone within the informal economy,” he said.