Donations to the government have poured in to help fight the spread of Covid-19, with an estimated $23 million coming from local donors and civil servants and another $40 million from international partners.
As of April 27, over 64,000 civil servants from 41 ministries and institutions pledged to donate portions of their salaries totalling 36.767 billion riel ($9.023 million) in the battle against the virus.
This figure was confirmed on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook page on Saturday and by a Fresh News report. The government has also received nearly $14 million from various donors.
Ministry of Economy and Finance spokesman Meas Soksesan said the $63 million donations will be added to the $60 million budget the government has set aside to fight Covid-19.
“We will check it further, but the commitment of international partners is $40 million. The donations could be made in the form of medical materials, equipment, or technical assistance.
“We have yet to receive cash. They [international partners] will transfer it gradually. They’ve made an even higher commitment to divert another $60 million to Cambodia as it battles Covid-19,” he said.
Soksesan said the government has another $350 million at its disposal to assist poor and vulnerable people and suspended factory workers.
But the budget could be insufficient if the battle against the virus persists for too long or the disease spreads rapidly. He said some money has already been withdrawn to buy necessary medical supplies.
In a recent press release, the Australian embassy confirmed that the country is continuing to provide financial support, technical and capacity-building expertise to empower Cambodians to respond effectively to the unprecedented challenge of Covid-19.
Australian ambassador to Cambodia Pablo Kang said in the release that Australia’s approach is aimed at empowering the government, private sector and civil society to implement coordinated measures for the benefit of all Cambodians.
“In the context of Covid-19, it shouldn’t be about donors such as Australia leading the efforts and claiming all the credit. Our health sector assistance is helping Cambodia implement its own Covid-19 master plan.
“That way, our cooperation is more likely to lead to measures that are best suited for Cambodia and ultimately have more sustainable impact,” he said.
The Australian embassy said it had provided over $100 million in aid to modernise Cambodia’s healthcare services and strengthen the country’s health finance systems over the past 10 years.
Previously Australia donated $26 million to Cambodia’s Health Equity and Quality Improvement Project (H-EQIP) and the country has committed to contributing a further $6.5 million over the next two years.
Over $9 million in H-EQIP funds have been allocated to purchase 20 ambulances and other medical equipment. Funds were also used to develop Cambodia’s laboratories to enable them to better respond to Covid-19.
The director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, Kin Phea, said donors, civil servants and investors had contributed funds to Cambodia because they trusted the government to respond effectively to Covid-19.
“We have seen aid from other countries and regions such as the EU, the US, and China. It highlights our good relations with other countries and expresses the confidence those countries have in the government.
“All of these [donations] are caring gestures of governments helping prevent the spread of the disease,” he said.
Cambodia, he said, has also shown its kindness, such as when the country allowed the MS Westerdam cruise ship to dock in Sihanoukville in February after it had been turned away by several other countries.