A Ministry of Social Affairs official yesterday announced that, starting next year, the government would offer regular payments of 20,000 riel (about $5) to all disabled Cambodians, a benefit that so far has only been available to retired disabled soldiers.
In an announcement that coincided with Cambodia’s National Day of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Affairs Secretary of State Sem Sokha said the frequency of payments would be based on the severity of the recipient’s disability.
Those considered least disabled, he said, would receive the payment three times a year, those more seriously disabled would receive it six times a year and those considered most severely disabled would receive the payment monthly.
“We are creating a committee to assess the extent of the disabilities, and what kind of conditions will get this allowance from the state,” he said.
The Boan Moa, chairman of the Association of the Blind in Cambodia, welcomed the new policies yesterday, saying that disabled civilians had long missed out on the benefits provided to their military counterparts.
“The disabled have been waiting for this bonus; they cannot earn as much money as [non-disabled people] so they need encouragement from the state,” he said.
However, Ngin Saorath, executive director of the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation, urged the ministry to “hurry to create the committee”, saying that the benefits had been too slow in coming, given that the government had formulated disability benefit policies since the early 2000s.
Sokha, of the Social Affairs Ministry, said that while the benefits were overdue, it would take time for the ministry to establish an Association of Disabilities to determine who would be eligible.
“We are late because we need time to create the association throughout the country before we divide this bonus,” he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen also marked yesterday with a message discouraging discrimination against the disabled.
According to government figures, between 30,000 and 40,000 Cambodians are disabled.