PHNOM PENH - Cambodia spends only about 1.5 percent of its gross domestic product on cultural preservation, including museums and heritage sites, a Belgian researcher for Unesco told a workshop in Phnom Penh Wednesday.
That kind of investment has made the benefits of Cambodia’s cultural sector “very, very weak,” the researcher, Molly Steinlage, said.
Total government investment in Cambodia’s cultural institutions is only about $1 million, she said. That does not include revenue from ticket sales at Angkor Wat, however, or the informal sector that benefits from Cambodian culture.
Meanwhile, the sector only provides about half a percent of the overall jobs in Cambodia, Steinlage said.
Cambodia’s investment is similar in GDP terms to Bosnia, at 5.72 percent, or Ecuador, at 4.76 percent, she said.
The government could consider financing more in the cultural sector for local markets, which currently depend on foreign investment and consumerism, she said. “For example, if a Cambodian wants to watch a Cambodian movie, this could be a domestic market for cultural services,” she said.
Minister of Culture Him Chhem told VOA Khmer the low GDP percentage statistic did not fit with the official numbers of the Cambodian government. He asked that Unesco “reconsider” its findings.