2021 was a difficult year for Cambodia. Many suffered from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the loss of jobs, temporary isolation of families and even loss of lives. Yet, this situation also bared Cambodia’s resilience, steered by the Royal Government’s quick action to contain the rapid domestic transmission of the virus and the remarkable rollout of a national vaccination campaign. Cambodia’s real GDP growth averaging 7% in the past 2 decades has been stalled mainly due to the pandemic, with recent estimate for 2021 only at 3%. However, the year ended with a promising outlook for 2022 and years ahead. The economic recovery is underpinned by a strong rebound of merchandise exports and improvements in the agriculture sector. With the easing of travel restrictions in the later part of 2021, we expect the tourism sector to contribute to the gradual upturn to pre-pandemic levels.
Maxima adapted to the challenges brought by this pandemic. We cautiously realigned our priorities, positioning the well-being of our employees and clients at the forefront. At the height of the pandemic, we implemented measures to reduce contact between our staff and clients such as the establishment of remote processes and allowing our staff to work from home. We also assisted many of our clients experiencing temporary financial difficulties by offering viable repayment options. We smoothly ensured business continuity by creating a well-defined communication line between the Board and the management which allowed us to briefly respond to ongoing challenges.
Maxima’s financial performance remained positive, despite it being comparatively lower than in recent years, which only reflected our cautious approach of the situation. The Board and the management team worked closely in assessing the extent of the impact of the pandemic, and we have been transparent to our lenders and shareholders in reporting our assessments. Their full support enabled Maxima to maintain a strong financial position and liquidity, despite the challenging times.
We may have realigned this year’s focus but we remained committed to position Maxima as a leading institution in the long term. We seize this opportune time to strengthen the foundation of our growth – our business proposition, people, process and technology, and robust governance. The Digital Transformation (DX) strategy which we started in 2020 will continue to provide Maxima cost advantage, operational efficiency and seamless client experience, and help propel Maxima ahead of increasing competition. We are thrilled to walk with our clients and stakeholders in this reinforced journey in the years ahead.
Finally, I would like to express my sincerest appreciation to the Board of Directors for their relentless guidance and support, to the management team and to all the staff for their zealous commitment, unwavering hard work and unrivaled dedication which became more apparent during this difficult time, and to our institutional partners and shareholders for unabated trust throughout the years. Maxima remained a strong and stable institution in its more than 20 years of successes. As the Chairman of the Board of Directors, I remained committed in leading and supporting Maxima towards realizing in full its vision and mission.
On behalf of the Board of Directors