The government has spent $744.6 million implementing its cash assistance programme for poor and vulnerable households, as part of the fight against Covid-19.
According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation in a July 24 announcement, more than 2.7 million members of 688,841 households have received cash transfers.
The first month-long distribution period of the programme’s 10th round of payments will last from July 25 until August 24.
Chhour Sopanha, director-general of the National Social Assistance Fund, said the poor were divided into three categories: those in the urban areas of Phnom Penh, in the fringes of the capital and in rural areas. Each family would receive cash according to its size and location.
“On average, those in rural areas receive about $50 per month, with urban families collecting from $80 to $100. The amounts are based on average pre-pandemic earnings, and were calculated with the assistance of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank,” he said.
Yong Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, applauded the government for continuing to consider the people who were suffering hardship during the pandemic.
He said the provision of social assistance this time around is a clear indicator of the government’s close attention to enabling people to recover from the financial effects of Covid-19.
“I’m pleased the government is continuing to support them. Although Covid-19 appears to be less of a concern, the lives of many people are yet to recover. Some people have not yet been able to restart their business, while others lost theirs during the pandemic. Without government assistance, their hardships would be even greater,” he said.
The social affairs ministry reminded all beneficiaries of the programme to use the money wisely and refrain from gambling or alcohol.
If the ministry discovered cash payments were being misused, it would request local authorities to issue written reprimands and could even cancel their IDPoor cards.
The ministry added that if they heard of an equity card being mortgaged, they should report it to the programme administrators of their commune, or at the municipal and provincial social affairs departments.
The ministry also warned them not to be deceived by conmen who may try to tell them they are required to pay money to access their cash transfer payments.
The issuance of the IDPoor cards was done without discrimination or political consideration and all services are free of charge, it said.
The cash transfer programme was launched back on June 24, 2020, by Prime Minister Hun Sen at the peak of the pandemic.