Tuesday, 24 March 2009

PM rejects EIU report

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan
Tuesday, 24 March 2009

PRIME Minister Hun Sen rejected Monday the conclusions of a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) that rated Cambodia as one of the least stable countries in the world in the face of the global economic crisis.

Hun Sen said the EIU, which is part of the Economist Group that publishes The Economist magazine, compiled the report for political aims.

Cambodia was ranked fourth in terms of threat posed, equal with Sudan and ahead only of Zimbabwe, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

That meant it was considered less stable than war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Our neighbour [Thailand] is facing difficulties - demonstrations every day and serious political risk, and yet that is not stated," Hun Sen said at the opening of a two-day national health conference.

"This group dares not speak about some people and some countries."

The EIU report warned that Cambodia is one of the nations most at risk of serious social unrest due to the global crisis.

The London-based research body said economic upheaval and a global pandemic of unrest could disrupt economies and topple governments over the next two years.

The EIU classified the risk in 95 countries as high or very high in its report (up from 35 at-risk nations in 2007). The organisation said it believes there is a 60 percent chance that measures under way to revive the global economy will work. This report's conclusions deal with the 40 percent chance that those measures don't work.

Hun Sen said the report's findings were inconsistent.

"Some countries in our region are still at war - for example, Sri Lanka. Why is it not considered risky, too? Why Cambodia, which is at peace? Why not analyse the risk in 1970 and that of the Pol Pot regime as well?" he asked. "[The EIU] has a political aim - that much is absolutely clear - but we don't much care what it says. The most important aspect is our soundness."

He said the EIU had underestimated its growth forecast for Cambodia in 2005.

"I used to try and tell them in late 2004 when we launched our public financial reforms - they forecast 2.4 percent but Cambodia achieved a record rate of 13.3 percent." The EIU report stated in its introduction: "The political risks from the economic crisis are increasingly dire. Dennis Blair, America's new intelligence chief, says political turmoil from the global recession has replaced terrorism as the country's biggest security threat."

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