In the five years between 2013 and 2018, workers in Cambodia and Myanmar saw their wages increase by 174.2 per cent and 203.3 per cent respectively. In 2018, Cambodia’s minimum monthly wage rose to R 750,000($182). Out of the 10 Asean countries, low wage earners in Myanmar and Cambodia have experienced the fastest growth in their minimum wages.
Myanmar, which does not have the mainstay of a de-facto greenback economy, saw minimum wages more than double in the past five years, with mushrooming inflation expected to reach 6.2 per cent in 2018, well in excess of an ideal rate of 2 per cent.
Several factors had underpinned the rapid rise in Cambodia’s lowest wages. The rise in cost of living and the government’s continuing efforts to reduce the rate of those living in poverty justifies the increase from around $100 a month to $182 presently.
Cambodia had greatly benefited from being a dollarised economy and from the strength of the US dollar compared to the weakness of emerging market currencies. A stronger dollar mitigates inflation, as most commodities — such as oil, metals, livestock and foods — are priced in US dollars.