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Payouts to mothers to ‘combat malnutrition’

A mother holds her infant child as she waits to see a doctor outside Phnom Penh’s Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital in 2016.
A mother holds her infant child as she waits to see a doctor outside Phnom Penh’s Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital in 2016. Hong Menea

Payouts to mothers to ‘combat malnutrition’

In what may become yet another populist pledge, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said he is considering giving $50 to every woman who gives birth in Cambodia to decrease child mortality and tackle malnutrition of mothers.

Speaking to factory workers in Preah Sihanouk province yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said he estimated about 400,000 women gave birth in Cambodia every year, and that the payouts were needed to combat infant mortality and malnutrition among mothers who had just given birth, as well as to foster children’s development after birth. If his estimate is correct, the payments would cost the country $20 million a year.

“The budget is capable of that,” Hun Sen said, “but this will not be implemented now and needs careful thinking”.

The premier had already promised baby bonuses for garment workers and civil servants, and has announced numerous other benefits to factory workers as part of an ongoing charm offensive to court the 700,000-strong voting bloc.

San Chey, country director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said he supported the initiative, but allowed the proposal could be a strategic move to drum up support among women.

Ex-opposition lawmaker Ou Chanrath said the policy was similar to proposed elderly benefits floated by his now-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, adding while he supported it in principle, he needed to see it actually implemented.

“I want to see its sustainability, not just promises that disappear after elections,” he said.

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