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Gov’t to continue Covid-19 aid for poor

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The National Social Protection Council meeting led by Finance minister Aun Porn Moniroth on Tuesday. Finance Ministry

Gov’t to continue Covid-19 aid for poor

The government announced its sixth round of measures to stimulate economic growth as it prepares for a post-Covid-19 world. The measures will ensure poor and vulnerable families continue to receive assistance during this difficult time.

It said nobody can predict when the pandemic will end or what lasting impacts it will have on society and peoples’ livelihoods.

The garment, textile, tourism and civil aviation sectors remain the hardest hit, while poor and vulnerable families continue to face daily struggles.

For the garment sector, the government will continue providing $40 per month to factory workers who lost their jobs or had their work suspended.

The programme will continue for another three months until the end of December this year. Factory owners have to add $30 to the handout, increasing the total disbursement to $70.

Tourism sector employees, including those who work at hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and travel agencies, will receive $40 a month for three months as well. The employers must provide as much money as possible in addition to the $40.

Registered hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and travel agents will be exempt from taxes for the next three months. The exemption only applies to tourist businesses in Kampot, Preah Sihanouk, Kep and Siem Reap provinces, Phnom Penh, Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town and Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town.

The government also delayed taxes for social protection schemes, exempted patent and building taxes and delayed General Department of Taxation audits of travel agents and operators in the tourism sector.

Minimum taxes for travel companies registered in Cambodia will be delayed for three months as well.

Poor and vulnerable families will continue to receive cash subsidies for another three months, from October to December.

A government press release said: “The government will continue to regularly follow the situation of Covid-19, the situation of the economy and finance in the framework of the region and the world.

“Hopefully, it examines and assesses the impact of Covid-19 on the main sectors of Cambodia’s economy to update essential measures. It is also prepared to lay out more new measures in the framework of economic strategy after the Covid-19 crisis.”

A Ministry of Economy and Finance press release on the National Social Protection Council Meeting published on Tuesday said cash subsidies handed out to poor and vulnerable people during Covid-19 had entered the fourth month or the second phase of the second round.

During the fourth month (September), the government spent more than $30 million on 689,973 poor and vulnerable families.

The press release said: “The focus of this programme is on the livelihoods and the difficulties of poor and vulnerable families.

“It contributed to improving the identification of poor families and encouraged relevant ministries and institutions in the national and sub-national levels to work with one another in implementing this programme.”

During the first month (June) of the programme, 530,838 poor families received cash subsidies. In the second month (July), 598,512 families benefitted while the third month (August), saw 644,655 families receive them.

Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun told The Post on Wednesday that he supported the government’s move. He thinks that more people will become victims as the Covid-19 crisis drags on.

“The government has to continue to support and assist an increasing number of citizens who are victimised by Covid-19,” he said.

The government, he said, should examine the effectiveness of the programme, identify irregularities and ensure that only eligible people receive the subsidies.

Chanroeun emphasised that the government should avoid corruption while identifying poor families and handing out payments. Corruption could cause injustices if the government fails to help real poor and vulnerable families in need of the assistance, he said.

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