As of January 24, the government has spent more than $930 million in cash support for poor and vulnerable households affected by Covid-19, with nearly 2.8 million people receiving payments.

According to the announcement of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, from June 25, 2020 to January 24, 2023, the government has implemented the cash support programme for poor and vulnerable households during the Covid-19 pandemic in 11 rounds of authorisation, with 31 monthly cash disbursements in which the government has spent $931.71 million.

The ministry added that 2,788,065 people from 706,648 families got this cash support. The beneficiaries include 165,643 children up to five years of age; 366,158 elderly people aged 60 and above; 64,576 people with disabilities and 2,036 families with members with HIV/AIDS.

The first cash disbursement for 12th round runs from January 25 to February 24, allowing one month for cash withdrawal.

At the same time, the social affairs ministry urged all beneficiaries to use the funds received from this programme wisely and to refrain from using the money for inappropriate activities such as gambling or drinking alcohol in order to help with the programme’s sustainability.

“In the event that any beneficiaries are found to be misusing funds for such purposes, the ministry requests that first the local authorities educate and warn them in writing. If they do not comply, then the commune chief must hold a meeting with the council to revoke or update their IDpoor card status,” the ministry stated.

The People’s Centre for Development and Peace president Yong Kim Eng said that continuing this programme was of benefit to help people to be able to gradually restore their family economy.

“I am pleased that the government continues to help them; even though Covid-19 has recovered a bit, but the lives of the people are still difficult. Some have not been able to start their businesses again and some have started but failed, especially smaller businesses. So if the state does not give this support, this problem will greatly affect the lives of these people,” he said.

Chhour Sopanha, director-general of the National Social Assistance Fund, earlier explained that cash support to the poor is divided into three categories: Poor in urban areas in Phnom Penh, the poor in urban areas outside the capital and poor in the rural areas, with each family receiving cash according to the cost of living in their area.

“On average in the countryside they get 200,000 riel [$50] per month for a family, while the average for people in town is from $80 to $100. The difference in amounts is based on income studies participated in by the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank,” he said.