The Ministry of Planning has since the start of July been conducting interviews for assessing whether informal workers in the entertainment sector can qualify for IDPoor cards, a senior official has said.

Theng Pagnathun, the government delegate in charge of the Directorate General of Planning, said a campaign has been launched to identify more people working in the informal economy are eligible for the IDPoor scheme.

The campaign includes workers at establishments such as bars, nightclubs, karaoke parlours, beer gardens, massage parlours and spas.

“This campaign is only for a short time, so it is essential poor people working in the entertainment sector of the informal economy prepare the documents needed for the interview, such as their ID card and family book,” Pagnathun said. The interview can take place either at their workplace or home.

A report by the Ministry of Tourism conducted in Phnom Penh and certain provinces can also determine whether other informal workers may qualify for an interview, he added.

“Once we have ascertained where such workers are, we will gather them together and check whether they eligible for an IDPoor card,” Pagnathun said.

The Ministry of Planning held a press conference on June 29 to announce the launch of support for people working in the entertainment industry. THENG PAGNATHUN VIA FB

Ou Tep Phallin, the president of the Cambodian Federation of Food and Service Workers, said people working in the entertainment industry had previously applied for an IDPoor cards from the government during the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, while many entertainment workers, like in other sectors, were poor with only irregular employment to rely on, very few had received an evaluation from an official from the IDPoor scheme, she said.

Those that had undergone previous assessment by the authorities, she said, were facing issues due to the format of the questionnaire.

“The way the questionnaire is set up, informal entertainment workers are not considered poor when the official notes down that they own a phone, meaning almost no one in the entertainment industry has access to IDPoor cards.

“Should the form of the questionnaire the officials use when assessing people be changed? Even during the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak, informal entertainment workers were never considered poor enough to qualify for the IDPoor scheme,” Phallin said.

From June 25, 2020 – during the Covid-19 pandemic – to June 24, 2023, the state has spent some $1.088 billion on cash assistance payments for poor and vulnerable families, from which more than 700,000 impoverished households have benefited.