The Straits Times
May 25, 2009
PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIA has an 'urgent' need to invest in education and health to further grow its economy and reduce poverty, a United Nations economist said at the launch of a report on Monday.
'Cambodia has a serious lack of qualified workers and this is something that needs urgent priority,' UN Development Programme (UNDP) economist Brooks Evans told reporters.
Mr Evans made his comments during the launch of a UNDP study on Cambodia's competitiveness in the global economy, which ranked it near the bottom among southeast Asian countries.
Cambodia also finished last in regional higher education training scores while 40 per cent of its population does not even finish primary school, Mr Evans said.
He added that lax rules and regulations have caused investors from the United States, Europe and Japan to shy away from setting up operations in the country, one of the world's poorest.
'Cambodia is potentially losing out on huge amounts of foreign direct investment,' Mr Evans said.
Cambodia enjoyed several years of double-digit economic growth until last year, but has seen sharp declines in garment exports and tourism - its two key industries - because of the global financial crisis.
Despite the recent economic expansion, under-employment, where someone's work earns only a meagre return, remains high in Cambodia.
Some 30 per cent of the country's 14 million people live on less than 50 US cents a day. -- AFP