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PM announces welfare for veterans, pregnant women

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An audience of military officials listens to a speech from Prime Minister Hun Sen marking the 11th Veterans Day. Facebook

PM announces welfare for veterans, pregnant women

Prime Minster Hun Sen has announced two government spending programs – a welfare scheme for pregnant women living in poverty and a housing program for veterans.

Speaking at a celebration commemorating the 11th annual Cambodian Veterans Day at Koh Pich City Hall, in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said pregnant women in Cambodia will receive financial assistance from the government in stages.

Each woman, he said, would receive 40,000 riel (about $10) four times during her pregnancy, 200,000 riel when she gives birth, and 40,000 riel 10 more times before the child reaches two years old.

In total the scheme will give out about $186 to each woman.

The assistance, according to the prime minister, could cost the government up to $5 million in the first year and $7 million in the second.

“It is our program to pay attention to women and children after we [already] did it for female garment workers, civil servants and the armed forces,” he said, adding that the benefit would only be offered to families with poverty cards.

Hun Sen also announced that $1 million originally earmarked to build a new military base would instead be put into the Cambodian Veterans Association’s (CVA) housing fund.

“As the head of the CVA and government . . . I would like to withdraw $1 million and give it to the association to be used to build houses. This is the beginning of a campaign to solve housing problems among veterans,” he said.

The prime minister said 86,680 veterans and 129,716 dependents received pensions from the government. The pension plans, he said, needed to be updated “immediately” to keep pace with economic growth.

Separately on Monday, eight veterans submitted a petition to the prime minister’s Cabinet on behalf of the families of 460 veterans, asking to be included in a land concession program.

Pao Buntha, a veteran from Siem Reap, claimed he had joined the army shortly after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge, and had just retired this year.

However, he said he could not find his name in the list of veterans set to receive lands or houses from the government. He and many other retirees, he said, were having hard lives, living with relatives or in rented houses.

“I want the government to help us. We are a group of war veterans who don’t have any land or houses,” Buntha said.

He said he was happy with the prime minister’s announcement but that he was unsure why his group was not on the government’s list.

The president of the Young Analysts Group, Hang Vitou, also welcomed the announcement.

“If the [plan] brings good to the people, then there is nothing wrong. But I wish the activities would be permanent and not just an election ploy,” he said.

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