Covid lockdown relief shifts from cash to groceries

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Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng distributes food aid to another families to help them get by on April 20. Phnom Penh Municipal Administration

Prime Minister Hun Sen has decided to cease the provision of 300,000 riel payments to residents in the locked down areas and has decided instead to increase available food assistance such as rice, canned fish, noodles and soy sauce.

“Today, some people complained to the authorities who provide food assistance to them. I beg your understanding about the government’s current hardship. We cannot provide 300,000 riel for a family or person in these locked down areas anymore.

He clarified that the 300,000 riel can now only be given to people in quarantine at some locations, but not across the whole country during lockdown.

“300,000 riel is not much for you as an individual. But it is a lot of money if the government has to provide it to every person in Phnom Penh because everyone is now under quarantine and in lockdown,” he said.

He said he had been told that some people had rejected the food assistance and demanded the money instead.

He noted that the food assistance they’ve turned down should be given to other people who need it.

“If we were just providing cash to 10,000 or 20,000 families, that isn’t hard. But now we have hundreds of thousands of families who would qualify for the payments. If everybody gets paid then the state will be facing financial difficulties,” Hun Sen said.

He said 10,000 families had now received their food assistance and that in the next three days the government would distribute food aid to another 400,000 families to help them get by.

Hun Sen also told Kandal’s provincial governor and the city’s governor to take care of the people at the pagodas because during the lockdown there would be no one available to offer alms to the monks.