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More than $320M distributed to poor families amid Covid outbreak

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Poor people verify there poor letter for cash support programs against Covid-19 in Chrey Seima Commune,Sampov Loun District, Battambang on May 23. Social Affairs Ministry

More than $320M distributed to poor families amid Covid outbreak

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has spent more than $322 million on cash assistance programmes for the poor and vulnerable during the Covid-19 crisis since the end of June last year, helping nearly 700,000 families.

As of May 24, the ministry had provided cash aid to a total of 2,750,501 members of 693,933 families. The government has conducted 11 cash assistance disbursals and is currently in the process of providing the second portion of the fifth round of payments.

The ministry said families who have already been verified in the government’s system will be notified of payments to them via SMS and be able to pick them up at any location of electronic payment service provider Wing without being required to go to their commune hall again.

However, poor and vulnerable families whose equity cards are still valid and who have not yet been verified in any of the previous assistance rounds and poor families who have just received a new equity card must go to a commune hall to get verified in order to get the latest assistance payment.

The ministry’s social welfare department director Chhour Sopanha told The Post that as long as the Covid-19 crisis continued in Cambodia, the government would continue to provide subsidies to poor families.

He said the cash assistance is divided into three categories: poor people in urban areas in Phnom Penh, outside of Phnom Penh and the rural poor. Each household will receive cash according to their family’s size.

Sopanha said that on average, a family would receive 200,000 riel ($50) if they are rural poor and $80 to $100 if they are in Phnom Penh.

Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun said the current policy to protect victims of the Covid-19 crisis was necessary in order for some families to survive.

“This programme will help people to meet their basic needs and also provide capital to help them earn a living in the difficult situation they are facing during and after Covid-19,” he said.

However, he suggested that the implementation of the cash assistance programme should be as transparent as possible in order to ensure the real victims are being helped.

“The government must provide this assistance in a transparent, accountable and non-discriminatory manner. I call on the government to further examine the people affected by Covid-19 who are working outside the system as well as citizens who owe money to the bank,” he said.

He added that having a policy to help people recover after Covid-19 is also necessary to help build the economy and ensure the wellbeing of individuals, families and society as a whole.

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