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Minister: Transparency vital in identifying poor households

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PoorID cards are handed to people in Oddar Meanchey province on December 22. Oddar Meanchey Provincial Administration

Minister: Transparency vital in identifying poor households

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has instructed all municipal and provincial governors to improve the process of identifying poor households qualified for financial support from the government’s cash handout programme.

The move came after Minister of Planning Chhay Than urged local authorities not to collude with relatives or better-off families to get IDPoor cards.

In a directive dated December 28, Sar Kheng said that from June to December, more than 700,000 households, equivalent to 2.8 million people, have been receiving the government’s financial support every month. The financial aid is greatly appreciated by the public from all walks of life.

The government will continue this programme for another three months from January to March 2021. The authorities must implement this programme effectively, transparently and fairly, Sar Kheng said.

“Municipal and provincial governors must give strict instructions to the local authorities, especially village and commune chiefs and commune councillors, to strengthen their work in identifying poor households as requested during the Covid-19 pandemic. The process must be done appropriately, clearly and thoroughly.

“Local authorities must not collude in registering their relatives, friends or acquaintances who are not poor and vulnerable to get the financial support,” he said.

Municipal, provincial and district administrations have to monitor, inspect and urge commune administrations to administer the programme for the poor and vulnerable in a transparent, countable, and effective manner.

Provincial authorities must take strict legal action against any commune officials who do not follow stipulated guidelines and procedures for the cash handout programme, Sar Kheng said.

In a letter to Sar Kheng on December 21, planning minister Chhay Than requested that an instruction be issued to local authorities over the matter.

According to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, from June to the end of November, 704,135 households had received around $175 million of financial support from the government.

Kampong Speu provincial governor Vey Samnang told The Post on December 28 that he already instructed local officials under his authority to heed the instructions. The province, he said, never had any case in which commune officials had misappropriated government funds by registering their family members who are not qualified for the IDPoor status.

“We will follow up and monitor the process of issuing IDPoor cards carried out by village and commune chiefs to see if they have committed fraud.

“It does not mean that the village and commune chiefs are not poor. What they should avoid is including their [well-off] relatives in the list to receive government support,” he said, denying recent allegations that officials had committed wrongdoing by including better-off families in the list.

Citing an example, he said a well-off family in Kampong Speu’s Samrong Tong district recently became poor after the breadwinner was killed in a traffic accident.

The family then received IDPoor cards for this reason, but have been under suspicion by locals who accused the authorities of including a rich household in the IDPoor list.

The case prompted an investigation by a committee which then accepted that the family was poor, Samnang said.

Planning ministry spokesperson Srey Da said that since June, 14,400 cards have been revoked because some families’ livelihoods improved but they still received IDPoor cards.

“Relevant ministries and authorities will recover the money from fraud cases committed by officials and return the money to the government. For ordinary people, we only revoke the cards, but we don’t take back the money.

“Then, we forward the cases to the interior ministry for them to take further action against officials who committed fraud,” Srey Da said.

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