The government has spent nearly $900 million to provide cash to poor and vulnerable households during the fight against Covid-19, with more than 2.7 million people receiving payments.

According to an announcement by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, from June 20, 2020 to December 24, 2022, the government has 30 payments in 11 rounds, at a total cost of $899 million.

The ministry said the total number of people who received subsidies was 2,783,803, from 705,766 households. The beneficiaries include 165,426 children up to 5 years old, 365,742 elderly people aged 60 and over, 64,437 people with disabilities and 20,388 households with HIV/AIDS.

The third payment of the 11th round of subsidies will run from December 25 until January 24, with a 30-day period to withdraw the money. The ministry urged all beneficiaries to use the proceeds of the programme correctly, avoiding any misuse that may have a negative effect on the programme.

“In the event that any beneficiaries are found to be misusing the funds, we will request that local authorities educate the beneficiaries in writing. If they persist in misusing the funds, their commune chief will cancel their ID Poor card,” said the ministry.

Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun said the government’s assistance was necessary.

“A large number of our people are close to the poverty line and the pandemic has made them even poorer. Anything that will help them is important, whether it is direct financial assistance or policy that stimulates the Kingdom’s economic recovery,” he said.

Chhour Sopanha, director-general of the ministry’s National Social Assistance Fund, said cash support to the poor is divided into three categories: those in urban areas in Phnom Penh, poor households in rural areas outside Phnom Penh and the rural poor. Each family receives cash according to the family size.

“On average, in rural areas, they get 200,000 riel [$50] per month for a family. The average person in the city receives up to twice this amount. These figures are based on a study conducted in cooperation with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank [ADB],” he said.

The ministry also reminded people not to be deceived by people who demand payment for the issuance of IDPoor cards. The cards are issued according to strict guidelines regardless of their political affiliations, he added.