In a bid to improve the welfare of the poor and most vulnerable, the government has reinforced the National Social Protection Council (NSPC) with the creation of a Social Assistance Sub-Committee (SASC).
As per Sub-Decree No 244 – signed on December 31, last year by Prime Minister Hun Sen – the SASC is tasked with coordinating the development of the social assistance system, and supporting, monitoring and evaluating the progress made in its implementation.
Comprising officials from more than 10 ministerial institutions, the SASC will also disseminate information about the social assistance system and coordinate technical work, including research studies of successful welfare systems in other countries.
According to the sub-decree, the SASC will convene every three months or when the chairman deems necessary.
In June 2017, King Norodom Sihamoni ordered the formation of NSPC, bringing together officials from the ministries of Economy and Finance; Labour and Vocational Training; Health; and Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation.
That same year, NSPC’s Executive Committee and the General Secretariat were formed to support its mission.
Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation spokesman Touch Channy told The Post on Monday that NSPC has benefited more than 50,000 people, including pregnant women, children and the disabled.
“The NSPC has just started implementing the national social protection policy until 2026, providing financial support to pregnant women and children under the age of two,” he said.
In the first phase, destitute pregnant women receive four dispersals of $10 whenever they have a pre-natal check-up. At the time of delivery, they receive a $50 allowance.
Post-delivery, another $10 is given, with a fourth grant following the completion of a post-natal checkup.
Lastly, the women can receive $10 up to six times when they take their newborn baby for vaccinations until the infant reaches two years of age. The total allocation per programme participant is $190.
“Poor women that hold social security cards issued by the Ministry of Planning have access to this financial support,” he said.
Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (Idea) director Vorn Pov applauded the creation of SASC, arguing that it shows the government is paying more attention to the needs of low-income citizens and pregnant women.
However, he said there is still plenty of room to make NSPC a more effective institution.
“To improve it, civil society organisations should partake in the workings of SASC so that it can run more efficiently. There should be more transparency on social assistance services so that the money disbursed to help the poor reaches its target,” he said.