Prime Minister Hun Manet has announced that his government intends to expand health insurance under National Social Security Fund (NSSF). The new scheme will see the immediate family members of an NSSF card holder gain access to healthcare services free of charge.

Speaking to more than 18,000 workers in Kandal province’s Takhmao town on the morning of September 1, Manet said he had already signed a sub-decree on the mater.

He explained that under the current regulations, only NSSF card holders themselves are eligible for free treatment with the NSSF’s partner hospitals and clinics.

“For example, if you are a member and go to get treatment you won’t have to pay, but if your husband is not an NSSF member, he will be billed. Your children have to pay too,” he told the majority female crowd of workers.

“We have considered this matter. We won’t force them to join. We estimate that each person will contribute around $4 per month. If they get sick, they can get free treatment, no matter how many times in a month,” he added.

“We will launch this programme soon. When you spend just 150,000 riel (around $4), you will be entitled to free treatment for your spouse or children that are not NSSF members. If you stay more than 8 days in hospital, we will also offer cash support to compensate for the income lost due the time you were admitted,” he continued.

It remains unclear whether the $4 dollar contribution will be added to current monthly contributions of each member or whether another price will be set.

Manet also reiterated that his government intends to keep the promises it made before the election. Work on these promises starts this year, and they will not wait until next year, he said.

“We were only formed a week ago, but implementation of our policies is already underway. Trust me, the government, which has been entrusted by the people and the leaders of the winning party, will not sleep or scratch our bellies while our people are suffering. We came to meet you here and tell you what we are doing,” he explained.

“Our programmes are based on a scientific approach, not on feelings or emotions like some parties have described their policies,” he added.

He instructed all ministers to start fulfilling their duties soon, noting that he had observed that some ministries begun meeting as soon as the new government was formed, while others had waited.

Manet also elaborated on the immediate actions the new government planned to implement soon, including the provision of free vocational training for youth from impoverished families and the formation of farmers’ communities, among others.

Regarding this year’s minimum wage negotiations, Manet said that a decision will be made before the coming Pchum Ben festival, which falls in the second week of October.

“We want to make it clear to you, so you depart for the festival with positive feelings,” he said.

Following last year’s negotiations, workers in textile-related manufacturing sectors received a minimum wage of $198. Former Prime Minister Hun Sen responded to workers’ concerns about rising food and accommodation costs, contributing an additional $2, to make the current minimum wage $200.

On August 28, while taking part in this year’s negotiations, union representatives put forth two figures, $212 and $220.20, for consideration.

The prime minister instructed Phnom Penh city governor Khuong Sreng to prepare free buses to transport people to their hometowns so they could enjoy the festivities. He estimated that during each of the Kingdom’s traditional holidays, the government spent around $600,000 to provide free transportation services.