Cash assistance for poor continues

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Members of poor households hold their ‘equity card’ as they receive financial assistance on June 25. NSSF

During a two-year stretch of the Covid-19 pandemic from June 25, 2020 through June 25 of this year, the Cambodian government spent $714.9 million to help 700,000 poor and vulnerable households, according to Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation spokesman Touch Channy.

“This cash handout programme was unusual for Cambodia. Almost no other developing country in the world has done anything like this during the Covid-19 crisis. In total, 700,000 households representing three million people received cash handouts,” he said on June 26.

Channy said that during the first few days of the cash handout programme, the national and sub-national level teams had difficulty carrying out the plan because it was new and the main focus was on managing the data and cash by developing a computer-based system to assist with the work, but now everyone is up to speed and the challenges are not as great.

Touch Sovuthna, director of the Kampong Cham provincial social affairs department, said mechanisms have been established to train officials to carry out the work at the district and commune level in a transparent manner.

“We have a team that coordinates this work so that when the commune administrations have a problem we can help solve it immediately and teach them what to do the next time the problem arises,” he said.

He added that for individuals the most common problem is that they forget their Wing code numbers needed to withdraw their cash or sometimes their PoorID cards are temporarily blocked and they need to meet with their commune chief to get a new card.

He also noted that on some occasions the team had to instruct some Wing locations that they were not permitted to take a cut of the money under any circumstances because the service fees were already being paid to Wing by the government.

Sovuthna said that over the two years, his province has donated cash to 48,145 poor families and the programme continues still today.

“More than 40,000 poor families continue to receive cash handouts from the government. They will continue to receive them until the government announces an end to the programme,” he said.

Back on June 24, 2020, Prime Minister Hun Sen launched the cash transfer programme in response to the economic downturn caused by Covid-19. The programme is now in its ninth renewal period and additional payments are scheduled to take place from June 25 to July 24 of this year.