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Prices Continue Steep Rise, Analyst Says

The cost of everything is up, way up. Milk. Noodles. Fish.

'“The cost just goes up,” a Phnom Penh vendor recently told VOA Khmer. “Oh, the people suffer. From today on, they will all die, because they have nothing to eat.”

The vendor is not the only one complaining. Inflation throughout the marketplace has made life more expensive for many Cambodians, especially in recent years.

The price of commodities from 2000 to 2007 rose 45 percent, said Sok Sina, an economic analyst in the capital.

“From September 2006 to September 2007, it rose 16 percent,” he said.

Critics say the government has not done enough to curb the inflation. Corruption and a non-competitive market environment due to cronyism are a few causes, they say.

“The first reason is business monopoly,” opposition leader Sam Rainsy said recently. “They set up the price to suit themselves.”

The high price of fuel, thanks to a high fuel tax, also contributes, along with a weak riel compared to neighboring currencies and weak management of money circulation, Sam Rainsy said.

But government economists say that Cambodia’s high number of imports keep prices high.

“Cambodia is a country that imports goods, and the imports bring inflation,” said Hang Chuon, of the Ministry of Economy.

This includes the high cost of fuel, which leads to high costs of transportation, and the high price of goods, he said.