Prime Minister Hun Manet has explained that even though Cambodia is not a wealthy country, the government has demonstrated its will to help the people, with more than $1.2 billion having been distributed through three recent social support schemes.

Financial support for pregnant women and new mothers began in June 2019, while the Cash Transfer Programme for those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic began in June 2020. Cash support for people affected by inflationary pressures was initiated in December last year.

Manet took to social media to address concerns raised by some people that the government was not doing enough to improve the livelihoods of the Kingdom’s most impoverished citizens.

He countered that the government has introduced many support mechanisms for the poor, citing the three support schemes.

Sharing a cumulative report from the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, the premier noted that as of September 28, the support had benefited more than 2.7 million poor and impoverished households, 339,977 pregnant women and new mothers, and more than 1.8 million people who were experiencing inflationary pressures post-pandemic. The total amount spent through these three mechanisms totalled more than $1.2 billion.

“This total is merely what these three schemes have shared with the people. There are additional policies in place to support our people at all levels, in all sectors, in all parts of the country,” he added.

Ministry of Economy and Finance spokesman Meas Sok Sensan agreed, telling The Post that the government pays close attention on the livelihoods of the people. So far this year alone, the government has spent around $350 million on its cash transfer programme, he said, projecting that social intervention spending will have totalled $672 million by year’s end.

He said on October 2 that the financial support demonstrated the government’s willingness to implement strategic schemes and economic recovery programmes post-pandemic, as well as to deal with the pressure caused by inflation.

He added that by the end of the year, the government will spend around $65 million to support households on the brink of falling below the poverty line.

In the labour sector, he explained that by year-end, the government expects to pay more than $60 million on vocational training and support for workers whose contracts have been suspended due to factory closures. Another $50 million is expected to be spent on digital and green infrastructure development.

Sok Sensan said $100 million has also been earmarked for other supplement activities such as job creation and rural infrastructure development including canals, ponds, wells and toilets at schools. Another $100 million has been prepared to assist the Kingdom’s economic recovery.

He also revealed that the government expects to spend a total of $30 million on economic diversification and competitiveness.

The development cost of the Run Ta Ek area for the people displaced from Angkor Archaeological Park has now reached $39 million, more than the planned budget of $25 million,” he noted.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the government had certainly provided a lot of support to the people, noting that the impact of Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine had pushed more people to fall into poverty.

He added that due to the major impacts of Covid-19 and the war, it is possible some people may not be satisfied with what the government has offered, and they may even compare the support offered with that given by other countries.

“Social interventions should continue, but the economic recovery – especially supporting the informal economy, the revival of the tourist sector and trade with foreign partners – need to be strengthened. Only when the national economy is strong can it benefit local people,” he explained.