As of April 24, the government, through the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has provided cash assistance to more than 2.7 million poor and vulnerable people across the country during the fight against Covid-19, with the state spending more than $622 million.
The ministry said in an April 25 announcement that in the eighth round’s third payment, the government provided cash support to more than 680,000 households.
The announcement added that the first payment of the 9th round payments began on April 25. They will run until May 24, and will follow the procedures laid out for previous payments.
The ministry’s social welfare director Chhour Sophanha said the social assistance programme was established by the state to help those affected by Covid-19, and that it will end when the pandemic is over.
He said the programme is divided into three categories: the urban poor in Phnom Penh, urban poor outside Phnom Penh and the rural poor. Each household receives cash through one member.
Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun believes that government spending, compared to some countries in the world, is not great enough to provide genuine relief for the poor and vulnerable that have been impacted by Covid-19.
However, he said the government – which can afford to spend only a small amount of money – is doing its best to help protect people’s living standards and alleviate the hardships they have suffered due to the pandemic.
He said the government should try to provide additional funding to help those people, because the pandemic had not yet ended, and even when it did, the post-pandemic recovery was likely to be tough.
He said that if the government has the budget – as well as policies – to support its people as the pandemic ravaged the world, it should have the resources to support their post-pandemic economic rehabilitation.
“A large number of our people were close to the poverty line. When Covid-19 erupted, it made them even poorer. Any help for our people is worthwhile. Whether it is direct financial support or policies that assist with economic recovery, it is crucial,” he said.
On June 24, 2020, Prime Minister Hun Sen officially announced the implementation of cash support programmes for poor and vulnerable households during the Covid-19 fight. The social affairs ministry were tasked with implementing the programme, which began on June 25, 2020. So far eight rounds of payments have been completed, with the ninth now underway.