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Inflation, Increased Cost of Living Expected to Hurt Cambodian Families

With inflation increasing, civic leaders are concerned children will face malnutrition or drop out of school to help their struggling families.

The price of rice and other goods continues to increase, pinching the pockets of many everyday Cambodians.

As far back as 2004, when there was little inflation, 45 percent of Cambodian children under the age of 5 faced malnutrition, said Chea Vannath, former director of the Center for Social Development, as a guest on “Hello VOA” Monday.

That number is likely to now increase, she said.

The world is facing an “economic tsunami,” she said, and it was up to everyone, including the government, private sector and non-governmental agencies to curb the impact.

The UN and IMF have warned of food insecurity worldwide, and already countries like Haiti and Egypt have seen riots over the rising price of goods.

“Some of the countries have no food stores, unlike Cambodia, we have them,” Chea Vannath said.

Still, if the government isn’t careful, the situation could turn “dire,” as the next rice harvest is not until October or November, around the festival of Pchum Ben, she said.

Rice millers and the government should be seeking to buy rice at the price of foreign businessmen in order to help people, she said.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said Monday that inflation was a continuing concern among workers, despite a proposed $6 increase to monthly income.

Workers have not received an exact date as to when the increase will come, he said, also a guest on “Hello VOA” Monday.

The $6 increase to monthly income came after the Free Trade Union threatened sweeping strikes, as the cost of living was surpassing a worker’s monthly income.

The opposition meanwhile has threatened to stage a second rally in coming weeks to protest the rising cost of goods.

Chea Mony said he had not called on all his workers to join one demonstration earlier this month, leaving it up to individuals.

His union is independent, he said.