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Cambodia’s loss of LDC status will bring challenges: World Bank

As Cambodia continues its upward trajectory towards becoming a lowermiddleincome country, it will face even greater challenges in reducing high levels of poverty as the Kingdom loses its preferential trade privileges and donor funding dries up, according to a new World Bank report.
The World Bank’s Systematic Country Diagnostic, presented last week in Phnom Penh, stated that while Cambodia had made large strides in reducing poverty over the past two decades, it cannot rely on the same agricultural and lowcost labour base to assist its reduction of poverty rates in the future.
“Cambodia’s eventual graduation from being a leastdeveloped country (LDC) will bring a progressive decline in donor financing and an erosion of preferential trade treatment,” the report said. “At the same time, salaries are rising, and it will be increasingly difficult for Cambodia to keep exporting unprocessed rice and low-end garments.”
The report added that with commodity prices showing negative indicators, the scope of future agricultural gains would become further limited. Additionally, reliance on tourism and the garment industries will be challenged as Cambodia’s competitiveness weakens.
Miguel Eduardo Sanchez, senior country economist for the World Bank in Cambodia, said that the report was meant to look at the sweeping longterm challenges facing the Kingdom in the nearfuture and to help the government craft policies for sustainable and inclusive growth.
“Cambodia is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and poverty reduction has been caused by the growth of services and exports in the tourism sector and garment sector,” he said, adding that the poverty rate declined from 47.8 per cent in 2007 to 13.5 per cent in 2014.
However, he added that nearly half of the population is still extremely vulnerable to negative economic shocks that could easily force it back into poverty.  – The Phnom Penh Post

Myanmar’s Hilton to open in Mandalay
The Eden Group has bought the Mandalay Sedona Hotel from Singapore-based Keppel Land, and it will be reopened soon as the Hilton Mandalay.
Eden, one of the Myanmar’s largest conglomerates, bought the hotel for US$41 million (Bt1.3 billlion) and will entrust Hilton to manage it. The buying process started in October last year with negotiations between the two companies. It then had to receive approval from the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism, Myanmar Investment Commission, central bank and Directorate of Investment and Company Administration.
Keppel opened the Sedona Hotel Mandalay in 1997 facing the palace and Mandalay Hill. The group also opened the Sedona Yangon in 1993. The Eden Group owns hotels in Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw, Bagan, Inle Lake and Rakhine State’s Thandwe Township,  and operates the Nay Pyi Taw and Thandwe hotels under Hilton management. Hilton Worldwide is planning to open as the Hilton Mandalay on September 1. – Myanmar Eleven

Brunei and Philippine Airlines sign code share agreement
A code share agreement between Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) and Philippine Airlines (PAL) will give passengers more options while travelling on business or leisure between three key destinations in Asean, the companies said.
Guests from both countries are now able to purchase their flights to and from Cebu via Manila on a single ticket with either airline. PAL guests will be able to travel to and from Bandar Seri Begawan on RB operated flights under a PAL flight number.
Karam Chand, RB chief executive officer, said: “RB is very pleased to have Philippine Airlines as our code share partner. Through this partnership, RB’s guests can seamlessly access Cebu, the oldest city of the Philippines, filled with culture and history, white sandy beaches and beautiful underwater sports.”
Jaime Bautista, PAL president and chief operating officer, said: “The code share partnership reconnects PAL with the Sultanate of Brunei, which is home to close to 20,000 overฌseas Filipino workers. This renewed partnership with RB also expands our network supporting our vision of becoming a five star airline.”– Borneo Bulletin

Indonesia to spend big on infrastructure projects in 2018
The Indonesian government plans to allocate 404 trillion rupiah (Bt996 billion) on infrastructure development, according to the draft state budget announced by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Thursday. 
The president explained that 856 kilometres of new roads and 781 kilometres of irrigation channels would be constructed.
“Infrastructure development is expected to boost economic growth and improve connectivity among the regions,” Jokowi said when reading out a financial note during a House of Representatives plenary session.
The government will also develop sanitation infrastructure to manage wastewater produced by 853,000 households, construct water treatment plants and develop 7,062 lowcost apartments for lowincome families, Jokowi added.
Public works and housing minister Basuki Hadimuljono said 41.30 per cent of the total budget would be spent on road construction and for the maintenance of 46,000 existing roads across the country.
The government has allocated 37 trillion rupiah for constructing and repairing irrigation infrastructure, including 11 new dams and 54,000 hectares of irrigation networks. – The Jakarta Post

Landbank seeks approval for Postbank acquisition
The Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) is firming up its acquisition of Philippine Postal Savings Bank (Postbank), as it seeks approval of the transaction from the body overseeing staterun corporations.
Landbank president Alex V Buenaventura said on Friday that the purchase agreement would be presented to the Governance Commission for GovernmentOwned or Controlled Corporations (GCG) this week.
In March, Buenaventura said Landbank’s acquisition of Postbank would be completed by the end of September.
Landbank will acquire 100 per cent of Postbank, including the 57per cent equity of also staterun Philippine Postal Corp on top of the national government’s share, Buenaventura had said.
According to Buenaventura, Postbank will be renamed either “OFW Bank” or “Bank for OFWs” to serve overseas Filipino workers’ banking needs. A pilot centre is being planned for Dubai. – Philippine Daily Inquirer

Published : August 20, 2017