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Gov’t rolls out eighth round of relief measures

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The garment workers leave from a factory in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Gov’t rolls out eighth round of relief measures

The private sector rejoiced as the government on March 25 announced its eighth round of measures to keep businesses afloat and stimulate economic growth as the Kingdom grapples with surging novel coronavirus infections.

The support measures centre on garments, textiles, footwear, travel goods, bags and tourism, and the government in April-June will continue to provide $40 per month to workers in the sectors as part of its cash handout programme amid the pandemic.

Factory and enterprise owners must add $30 to the handout, increasing the total disbursement to $70. On the other hand, employers in the tourism sector are encouraged to voluntarily provide as much money as possible.

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) secretary-general Ken Loo lauded the measures, saying these will prop up the Kingdom’s hardest-hit industries amid the Covid-19 crisis.

“The decision to extend the $40 scheme for suspended workers is very good. This will help affected workers tide over the difficult times and at the same time help employers.

“Employers with no current orders can apply for a suspension and use the time to try and secure new business opportunities,” he said.

Additionally, registered hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and travel agents will be exempt from taxes for the next three months, but are still required to file their tax returns and use the online e-VAT system to manage their value-added taxes (VAT) each month.

The exemption, however, 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.

Pacific Asia Travel Association Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan said while the government’s “proactive” intervention measures were not a cure-all, they provided a moderate amount of relief to some of the Kingdom’s more embattled sectors.

“We’ve also requested the government to set a special fund for the tourism sector in the post-Covid era because most businesspeople in the industry are not making any revenue.”

Through the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, the government will extend a cash handout programme to poor and vulnerable people affected by Covid-19 in a fifth round from April through to June.

The government also appealed to ministries, public institutions and private owners of commercial lease properties to refrain from terminating contracts with or evicting tenants that are unable to make timely rent payments.

“The government will continue to regularly monitor the situation of Covid-19, social, economic and financial situations in the world, the region and in the country to review and assess the effects of Covid-19 on Cambodia’s major economic sectors to update and prepare further necessary measures, aimed at restoring and promoting economic growth under the economic-restoration strategic plan framework during and after the Covid-19 crisis,” it said.

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