Australia gives Cambodia $57M for vaccine programme to reopen economy
Harrison White Khmer Times Thu, August 27, 2020
The programme has been designed to provide rapid, fair and equitable COVID-19 vaccinations to less developed nations so their economies can reopen in line with more developed economies and start the process of rebuilding. Australian Embassy in Cambodia
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs granted $57 million yesterday for Cambodia and the region to have improved access to safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines.
The programme has been designed to provide rapid, fair and equitable COVID-19 vaccinations to less developed nations so their economies can reopen in line with more developed economies and start the process of rebuilding.
The international “COVID-19 Vaccination Facility Advance Market Commitment” will provide 20 percent of low-income countries and lower-middle-income countries’ populations with fast and equitable access to a COVID-19 vaccine by 2021. Vulnerable communities will be fast tracked to the initial “Phase One” stage that will include healthcare workers, the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.
After Phase One has been completed it is hoped that countries will be able to reopen their borders and return businesses to pre-pandemic conditions and start the path to economic recovery.
Regional funding for the programme has been provided by the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Italy and Norway.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Paine said yesterday, “Australia is working to improve access to safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines for our Pacific family and partners across South East Asia.”
“Australia’s AUD$80 million contribution to the Gavi COVAX AMC [vaccine programme] will play a critical role in supporting our [Pacific and South East Asia] region to recover from this pandemic,” she added.
Eligible Pacific countries that have been listed for assistance include Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Kiribati. While eligible Southeast Asian countries are Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam.
According to government estimates, Cambodia’s economy is predicted to shrink 1.9 percent this year from the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a statement on budget planning for 2021-2023, Prime Minister Hun Sen said, “Cambodia’s economy in 2020 is expected to contract by 1.9 percent, which is the slowest-ever growth.”
He added because of the pandemic, the country has experienced a huge decline in demand from its trading partners.
The Kingdom’s growth heavily relies on garment and footwear exports, tourism, construction and real estate, and agriculture, and because of the pandemic, garment and footwear exports and tourism have been hit the hardest.
However, Prime Minister Hun Sen was optimistic that the country’s economy will bounce back to 3.5 percent in 2021 thanks to the gradual recovery of the global economy and external demand.
He said inflation is predicted to be at a manageable level of 2.8 percent this year and slightly up to 3.1 percent next year because of the projected rise in international oil prices.
The World Bank has estimated that Cambodia’s economy is likely to shrink between 1 percent and 2.9 percent this year, which would be the slowest growth since 1994.
It said the pandemic will put at risk 1.76 million Cambodian jobs from losses in tourism, manufacturing and construction, which together account for more than 70 percent of growth and almost 40 percent of employment.