The Ministry of Planning has identified new lockdown-affected 59,000 households totalling over 190,000 people who are eligible for cash assistance from the government. They also include those whose members have either died or contracted the virus.

Ministry spokesman Nop Kornavuth told The Post on July 6 that the ministry had interviewed and identified the households in its second phase by the end of June.

“In the first phase in May, we identified 61,000 households, representing 206,000 people. After conducting the same process this time we sent our results to the Ministry of Economy and Finance to calculate the amount of money to be paid to them in the near future,” he said.

He added that the affected families were located in three lockdown areas including Phnom Penh, Takhmao town and Sihanoukville.

Altogether in these two phases, the ministry has identified 120,000 households representing 400,000 people affected by the lockdowns and Covid-19-related deaths or infections.

He continued that money can be provided in a third phase if the government sees that other families who encountered the same problems had yet to receive any assistance.

“The ministry advised local authorities to wait to receive application forms for cases of those who have had problems occur with their livelihoods after the lockdowns or families who are falling into poverty,” Kornavuth said.

Finance ministry spokesman Meas Soksesan told The Post on July 6 that the ministry had already budgeted funds to solve the pandemic-related problems and would even increase funds for other essentials if the government measures continue.

“As long as there is a request by the planning ministry that passes through the relevant committee, we will provide Covid-19 funds without hesitation. We are always prepared to do so because this is a pressing issue,” he said.

Lam Socheat, director of the Advocacy and Policy Institute, said on July 6 that with the updated information for identifying the poor, the government had done well so far, but the Covid-19 problems would be prolonged and local authorities should identify more people affected economically by Covid-19.

He added that identifying the poor was still difficult to do accurately because people’s situations could change rapidly from being well-off to poor.

“Sometime, the authorities can identify real poor people, but of the identified people some of them cannot later be found,” he said.