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PM urges Asean to narrow development gap and digital-economy connectivity

Sorn Sarath / Khmer Times Share:
Cambodian students and a teacher using a computer in a modern classroom built under Prime Minister Hun Sen’s administration campaign for the ‘new generation’ schools programme in Phnom Penh. The prime minister wants more digital awareness and connectivity. AFP

Prime Minister Hun Sen has asked Asean member states to narrow the development gap, which remains an important agenda for the bloc in building a people-centred community, while calling  on more digital-economy connectivity.

In a speech on Friday, Mr Hun Sen said that Cambodia is pleased to note that the region has achieved the implementation of more than  84 percent of the Initiative for the Asean integration (IAI) work Plan III.

“I support further coordination to expedite the full and effective implementation of the remaining activities,” he said.

“I also note with satisfaction the significant progress made in the implementation of the master plan on Asean connectivity (MPAC) 2025,” he added.

Mr Hun Sen said in this spirit, Cambodia will continue to encourage proactive engagement withal relevant stakeholders to lend further support to the implementation of the MPAC 2025 and, ultimately,  Asean connectivity.

Regarding the connectivity, he also emphasised the importance of digital connectivity and the digital economy.  He said digitalisation has played an important role in offsetting productivity losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In fact, in this sector we can see the huge potential of markets and a workforce that has not yet been fully utilised,” he said.

Cambodia has seen recent and rapid growth in digital and electronic payment services, which show the Kingdom’s digital economy connectivity.

Currently the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) is launching Bakong, a project that has been introduced to address this by gathering all participants into one system where finance can be widely spread through their Bakong accounts that can be created through the Bakong app installed on smartphones.

According to NBC statistics, the number of e-wallet accounts increased 64 percent in 2019 from the previous year to 5.22 million while the number of deposit accounts reached 7.62 million within the same period.

The prime minister said the disruption caused by the pandemic has made us aware of a greater need for Asean to foster digital infrastructure development as well as support for digital economic integration in the region at the time that Asean is putting efforts into restoring the economy in the context of the crisis.

The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications last week held a meeting on financial strategies for 2021-2023 and budget planning for 2021 that include the continued development of a digital-based economy.

Key initiatives include revenue collection using data from the Data Management Centre, draft policy and strategic plans for telecoms and digital technology development.

It also focus on draft regulations for post, telecoms and information communications technology sectors, capacity building for officials, app development for online provision of public services and a single international gateway.

MPTC encourages the development of a national high-speed internet policy and the adoption of Cambodia’s digital government policy in 2024.

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