A Surplus of 150,000 Ha of Rice Cultivation
Please allow me to inform all of our people that according to weather forecast, the rain condition of this year will not be extending to end of November at all. It will be over in the first week of November. I am asking our people to take extra measures to keep water in the reservoirs for the need of irrigation. I have noticed that rice in general are growing well while some are either being harvested or milking their grains. I would advise you to be watchful for the need for water. This year we are producing rice over a total area of 2.51 million hectares compared to 2.36 million hectares planned. Judging from these figures, we have cultivated over an extra 150,000 hectares of land. This year we do not have flood damage, except a minor flood incident in Pursat province.
The Mekong Flood Depending on Rain in the Mekong Basin
We have learnt a good number of factors in relation to the Mekong River (flooding pattern). The point is that the height or level of flood of the Mekong River does not subject to whether there is or there is not construction of the hydropower plant but to the amount of rain that falls into the Mekong basin. Last year there was lot of rain in the Mekong basin in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The Sayaburi damn did not start yet. This year the rain does not fall in the Mekong basin and the Sayaburi does not build too. However, there is not much water in the Mekong, either in Cambodia or in Vietnam. The Mekong flood has been low.
Taking this into consideration one should finally reconsider. The projected Sayaburi dam is 1,200 Kilometers away from the Cambodian-Lao border. In that case, if the rain falls in the Mekong basin, flood will certainly happen and the city of Pursat would not be an exception. The data collated this year has brought us a great experience. It is obvious now that where there is much rain the flood situation is very likely. If the Sayaburi dam is the cause of disaster, the city of Vientiane is the first to be affected because it stands only 220 Kilometers away from the projected site. If the Sayaburi causes the Mekong to gather no water the city of Vientiane will suffer lack of water before anyone else.
We could draw a conclusion that the flood situation will depend almost entirely on the amount of rain that falls. If it does not fall in the Mekong basin, the flood in the Mekong would be minimal like this year. Vice versa, if there is much rain in the Mekong basin, we all should anticipate maximum flood strength. So the conclusion is that minimal or maximum flood strength would depend on the amount of rain that falls into the Mekong basin and not on the construction of the dam. The most important here is even if the dam is constructed, diversion of water current out of the Mekong basin would be dangerous. This year is the year of Dragon, but instead of being big, this year’s flooding is minimal or smaller than the Year of Rabbit.
The Economic Growth to Be 7%
While appealing to our people all over the country to look after their rice cultivation I would inform you that this would not be a bad year for us. We could still achieve the expected 7% growth and the rate of inflation stays below our prediction too. We have placed inflation rate at around 5% but in real term, it has come to only 3.5% (lately, the prediction has recorded only 2.9% as we have two months more to go). I am sure in the remaining two months we might have no further inflation because we will have rice harvested and plenty of fish caught. Cambodia will not be food insufficient.
What remains our big worry is the processing for export. I would urge that we do everything not to export paddy rice without processing in the country. As far as garment exports are concerned, despite uncertain economic condition in the Eurozone and the United States, we could still maintain our exports. We should note that the property market has risen a bit. Land, housing and construction move to a rising price state. We also note the rise in tourism in the last three months when we received up to 2.33 million of tourists. It seems that we have scored all positive numbers in all fields. There are no minuses.
We also hope that the agricultural sector will come with a plus sign though we have yet to account for it. Industry, tourism and agriculture are the three main agents of growth of the country’s economy and they all are making positive gains.
Current Account Surplus at 1.67%
The Royal Government continues to implement carefully all of its reforms, including also the public financial management reform, which has moderated the surplus of the current account at 1.67% over expenses. This obviously means that we have a larger income than expense. Our income has gone higher than planned about 3%, while our expense has exceeded only 2% over the planned figure. We have invested surplus in real term in the road and bridge construction and made the yearly 20% increment of salary. We have set a clear goal for our budget. How much we would spend on what or how many percentage of the GDP. Our expenses on administration staff – government officials, armed forces, teachers, members of parliament and the Senate, etc., have been framed to stay within 4% of the GDP or 40% of the current account. Now we spent up to 42% of the current account or 4.7% of GDP. This should be an explanation in relation to some who raise their voices why (the Royal Government) does not increase higher salary. I think to increase salary your way, if you are in power, I would say you could stay for one month and would be chased out after that because you would not be able to find the required sum … ◙