Civil servants and armed force personnel are set to receive a 50,000 riel allowance for both the Khmer New Year and Pchum Ben Festival period this year, with a government spokesperson calling it a “morale booster”.
According to a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on March 25, the allowance will be provided to all of the Kingdom’s 500,000 civil servants at an estimated cost to the government of $8 million. The allowance will be split, with 50,000 riel for Khmer New Year and another 50,000 riel for Pchum Ben Festival.
Beneficiaries include those who are employed by the legislature, judiciary, National Police of Cambodia, Ministry of Interior, Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, National Audit Authority, National Election Committee and the Cabinet.
The allowance will also be offered to local government civil servants and officials. Members of the boards of the municipal, provincial, district and commune or those of equivalent rank, employees of the People's Office in the sub-national administration, village chiefs, village deputy chiefs, village members, contracted officials and staff working at the national and sub-national levels, former civil servants who are now retirees and those with disabilities, veterans of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and former officers of the National Police of Cambodia will be eligible for the payout.
The families of civil servants with disabilities and veterans will also be provided with this allowance as a one-off payment.
The prime minister instructed ministries, national institutions and sub-national administrations to submit the number of eligible officials to the Ministry of Economy and Finance “as a matter of urgency for the ministry to prepare additional budgeting loans and ensure that this subsidy is implemented on time,” he said.
The sub-decree stipulates that the finance ministry and relevant institutions must cooperatively arrange the distribution of the Khmer New Year allowance to each civil servant by April 13, with the allowance for Pchum Ben festival to be disbursed in September.
Ministries, institutions and units that have not yet opened payroll accounts for their civil servants must arrange for the payment of allowances “in full and on time”, according to the sub-decree.
Ministry of Civil Service spokesman Youk Bunna told The Post that although Cambodia was still in the throes of Covid-19 crisis management, the government will “always take care” of civil servants, calling the payout a “morale booster”.
"We all know that we are facing Covid-19. Despite that, the government is trying to find a way to boost the morale of all civil servants, armed force personnel and officials in this difficult time, especially to allow them to properly participate in the joyful occasion of Khmer New Year and Pchum Ben festival," he said.
Pech Pisey, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, previously said that the government has been providing additional cash incentives to civil servants regularly in recent years.
"I think, if our national budget is not facing problems, then this payment is welcome, because our civil servants’ salaries are low. This [payment] will be an opportunity for civil servants to further enjoy the festival,” he said.
Non Dary, a teacher in Kampong Siem district, Kampong Cham province who is eligible for the payments, said that such financial support shows that the government has considered the wellbeing of civil servants, which will encourage them to “keep working hard”.
"The payments are enough for spending on gasoline and buying some goods in preparation for the festivities,” he said.