More than 680,000 poor and vulnerable households have received financial support through the government’s cash transfer programme during the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to a notice released by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation on February 25, the government has just implemented the first payments of the eighth round of transfers.

The programme was first launched on June 25, 2020.

The ministry said the first transfers of the eighth round ended on February 24, with 687,354 households receiving cash, at the government’s expense of 121 billion riel ($29 million). The second payments of this round will run from February 25 to March 24.

“From June 25, 2020, to February 24, 2022, the state has provided financial support of $592.58 million to impoverished and vulnerable people during the fight against Covid-19,” the ministry said.

The ministry told those eligible to withdraw the money at any agent of electronic payment service provider Wing. They should not be charged any transaction fees as the government had negotiated those with the company.

Chanthy, a resident of Chak Angre Leu commune in Meanchey district, said she received around 170K riel ($40) every month from the government’s cash transfer programme as her family has six members.

“I use the money to buy rice and pay for electricity and water and other expenses. It has eased my financial concerns to some extent,” she said.

Chanthy said she was happy to have received the support from the government and hoped that the programme would be continued as the Covid-19 situation did not appear to have improved as yet.

Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said on February 18 that the government had spent a total of $2,127 million from 2020 to 2021 to control the pandemic’s impact on various sectors.

He said a total of $830 million was spent in 2020 and $1.3 billion in 2021. More than $1 billion is projected to be assigned to pandemic relief expenditure this year.