Cambodian government delays all construction projects to fund coronavirus fight

Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen has said that all government construction projects will be put on hold to free up funds to fight a possible coronavirus outbreak.

The prime minister, speaking at a meeting at the health ministry last week in Phnom Penh, said: "All construction projects by the government that have not yet been started need to be delayed unless they are jointly funded with foreigners," he said. "We can put off all constructions ’til next year as we need to know how much money we have in hands after the containment of the Covid-19."

Ath Thon, president of the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, told the Khmer Times that the postponement would affect at least 10,000 workers who depend on the sub-contracts. "It will have a big impact on the workers, especially in construction sector involving the government," he added.

Chan Sophal, director of the Centre for Policy Studies, said the government’s annual infrastructure projects cost about $400m, and include maintaining provincial roads, building canals and schools.

To date, Cambodia has only two confirmed coronavirus cases.  

However, the Westerdam cruise ship docked in Sihanoukville on 14 February, and passengers came ashore. It was later found that there were 100 cases of the virus among the passengers, sparking fears of spreading.

Image: There are fears that the Westerdam cruise ship may have brought the coronavirus to the country (Master0Garfield/CC BY-SA 4.0)

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