Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the government would launch a cash handout programme for more than 560,000 poor families starting Wednesday, while an official said the task of identifying poor families continues.
In a Facebook post, Hun Sen said on Sunday that the Covid-19 pandemic had affected the economy and left some citizens out of jobs, especially poor ones. Citizens in some remote areas were suffering from food shortages.
“The government has made efforts to come up with various ways to help in this situation. On Wednesday we will launch a formal cash handout programme to poor and vulnerable people,” the post read.
A sub-decree signed by Hun Sen and seen by The Post on Sunday said poor families in Phnom Penh and those in central city areas outside the capital classified as Levels 1 and 2 will receive a cash handout of 120,000 riel ($30) a month from the government.
A Level 1 poor family member in the capital will be assisted with 52,000 riel a month, while a Level 2 poor family member will receive 36,000 riel.
The sub-decree further said that a Level 1 poor family member outside the capital will receive 40,000 riel in assistance monthly and a Level 2 poor family member will be assisted with 28,000 riel.
Vulnerable people such as children aged five and under, people with disabilities, elderly over the age of 60 and HIV-positive families are to receive equal cash. Each person receives 40,000 riel for Level 1 and 28,000 riel for Level 2.
Poor families in the countryside will receive 80,000 riel in assistance. Vulnerable people at Level 1 will receive 24,000 riel assistance and poor families in Level 2 will receive 12,000 riel a month.
The Ministry of Planning said from June 1, it had identified 560,000 poor families consisting of 2.3 million people that are eligible for the cash handouts.
Directorate General of Planning director Theng Panhathorn told The Post on Sunday that the ministry had sent a poor family identification figure to the Ministry of Economy and Finance to determine amounts to be handed over to those families.
He said gathering statistics on poor families continues and the ministry will update the numbers again in July.
The Ministry of Planning will determine the number of poor people, while the Ministry of Economy and Finance will determine the funds to be handed out.
The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, he said, is responsible for handing over the cash to the identified families.
“The number of families identified as poor is on the rise. But we have not handed out the cash yet as we need to determine the amount of funds required step by step,” he said.
Ministry of Economy and Finance spokesman Meas Soksensan didn’t reveal the amount of money to be handed over to the more than 560,000 poor families. “Samdech [Hun Sen] will announce it on June 24,” he said.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance had previously said the government had prepared $800 million to $2 billion in reserve funds for spending during Covid-19.
The funds will be used to help balance businesses in some sectors, ease the burden on workers and poor and vulnerable people.
Soksensan told reporters recently that the government had spent more than a $1 billion of the reserve funds.
Besides announcing the cash handout programme for poor families, Hun Sen called on citizens to exercise caution on Covid-19. He urged the public to use facemasks and frequently wash hands with soap and alcohol-based gels.
He said companies and managers at mass gatherings such as markets, supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops, clinics and state and private hospitals had to have alcohol and facemasks for their clients to stop person-to-person transmission.
The Ministry of Health on Sunday announced that it had not detected a new case. But Cambodia reported another Covid-19 patient had recovered, bringing the total to 127 out of 129 patients.
However, the ministry called on citizens to exercise extreme vigilance. It said they have to live a life of the new normal and adopt protective measures consistently.
Washing hands frequently, wearing facemasks or scarves when necessary, using the elbow to cover the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and practising social and physical distancing is a must, it said.