The government regards the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) – designed to support families and respond to emergencies – as one of its most important priority policies which guarantees benefits for all Cambodians, said Prime Minister Hun Manet.

“The government will never leave any one of its people behind,” he added.

He explained that the government spent approximately $1.35 billion in 2021 and $600 million in 2022 on the programmes, in order to support families which were suffering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic or inflationary pressure.

His remarks came as he presided over the December 5 Launch of the “Guiding principles of the NSAP for Households and Guiding Principles of the Social Protection Framework in Response to Emergency”. The social assistance programme is the third of the six priorities announced by the government.

He said that since it achieved comprehensive peace, Cambodia has developed in all sectors, improving the livelihoods of the people. The poverty rate has been drastically reduced, although it still exists.

“In the past four years, the world has encountered the unforeseen impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. It deeply impacted society, and affected the livelihoods of many, many people. Then we have the problems caused by the outbreak of serious conflicts around the world, in addition to the global inflation crisis,” he added.

“Therefore, it is crucial that the government pay close attention to the most vulnerable members of our society. We must leave no one behind. We cannot be a government which supports people during good times but abandons them in bad times. My government is a proactive one,” he continued.

He reiterated that the seventh-mandate government is committed to continuing to take action to make the Kingdom’s social protection systems more effective. It will strive to provide assistance and resolve the people’s problems in a timely manner.

However, he explained that the problem of Covid-19 is now effectively over, and the government cannot offer financial support to the people affected by it forever. He said nevertheless that the government will continue to address the needs of people whose family livelihoods are ailing.

“The implementation of these principles is an important element in strengthening our social protection systems. We want to guarantee long-term benefits for our people, and assure them that they will never be left behind,” he said.

“We will always act to the best of our ability, and whatever is possible with the national budget. It is important that we make the strongest possible efforts to ensure that the people know they are supported,” he added.

There are four target groups for the social assistance programme. One is applied to pregnant women and new mothers, while one provides scholarships for primary and secondary school students who need support. One is for people with disabilities, with the final aimed at those aged 60 and older.

The new social assistance programme payments will begin in April next year, as the Cash Assistance Programme for poor and vulnerable households that was launched during the pandemic draws to a close.

Manet said that as the world suffered the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak and the Russian war against Ukraine, the government has released over $1.3 billion to address socio-economic impacts. 

He added that the government not only curbed the spread of Covid-19 and implemented the cash programme for the poor and vulnerable – as well as suspended factory workers, migrant workers and families at risk from natural disasters and inflationary pressures – it has also conducted vocational training.

Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Chea Somethy noted that the government has launched many key national social protection programmes, some of which had come to an end while some are still being implemented. Hundreds of thousands of families have received assistance from the government. 

He said that through the National Social Protection Policy Framework 2016-25, the government was working to integrate the NSAP, while adding more protection policies that will make it stronger and more comprehensive.

“On behalf of the social affairs ministry, I pledge my commitment to fulfil this mission in a self-reliant, accountable, transparent and effective manner to ensure that the implementation of the new frameworks is a success,” he added.

He also emphasised how the ministry will continue to strengthen its close cooperation with all stakeholders – including the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the General Secretariat of the National Social Protection Council and all relevant development partners – to ensure the smooth introduction of the government’s new policies.