Category Archives: Cambodia

Gov’t disburses $125M in handouts for poor

Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia has disbursed $125 million in cash handouts over five months to municipal and provincial authorities for more than 600,000 poor and vulnerable families in target areas amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking during a formal ceremony to launch the programme on Wednesday, Hun Sen said if the government wanted to provide social assistance, it would hand out cash directly.

The cash handout will start in the next few days and more will be released next month.

“[Minister of Economy and Finance] Aun Pornmoniroth told me that $125 million has already been saved for five months and now we have disbursed it to the target areas,” he said.

The prime minister said cash will be handed out to recipients in the fourth week of each month, amounting to $25 million a month. At this stage, the government schedules payments every two months to implement the programme.

He continued that this was social assistance during the Covid-19 crisis, not a programme to support the poor permanently. He said those who can carry on their business or work should continue to do so instead of depending on state subsidies.

“The government initiated this programme to assist poor families during the pandemic. The handout will be given every two months.

“In the first round, the handout takes place once in June and once in July. The government will continue monitoring and assessing the situation and the effects of this pandemic.

“This social assistance programme will be implemented in a new round for two more months. But if the effects of Covid-19 are relieved, the government will stop this social assistance programme and divert the [remaining] money to various necessary investments to restore economic growth,” he said.

A sub-decree signed by the prime minister and seen by The Post on Wednesday said poor families in Phnom Penh and those in urban areas outside the capital classified as Level 1 and 2 will receive a cash handout of 120,000 riel ($30) a month.

Some could receive more depending on conditions such as the number of children, people with disabilities and HIV-positive families.

The Ministry of Planning said since June 1, it had identified 560,000 poor families consisting of 2.3 million people who are eligible for the cash handouts.

Hun Sen also advised officials in the capital and provinces to continue surveying citizens. He said Covid-19 could cause some families to become impoverished in the future.

Democratic Institute of Cambodia director Pa Chanroeun hailed the move, saying the government had an obligation to take measures to help guarantee citizens’ safety and wellbeing.

“The government intends this to be a quick fix. Hopefully, they have some abilities in the fight against this Covid-19,” he said.

Chanroeun said he wanted to see a transparent process of surveying poor citizens to ensure the national budget spending hits the target and is efficient for citizens.

Written by Long Kimmarita
Source: Phnom Penh Post
Published on 24 June 2020
Link: https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/govt-disburses-125m-handouts-poor

Thailand to keep Poipet border shut amid Covid

Thailand on Tuesday again denied a request from Banteay Meanchey provincial authorities to reopen the Poipet international border checkpoint to its Sa Kaeo province.

The border has been closed since March due to Covid-19 concerns.

Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Um Reatrey met with Sa Kaeo governor Woraphan Suwannus via video conference to discuss the reopening. The purpose is to allow Cambodians, especially vendors, enter Thailand to do business at the Rong Kluea market.

The Thai side has only allowed vendors to check on their products.

On its Facebook page, the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Administration said: “Thai officials in Sa Kaeo decided to keep the Poipet checkpoint closed and not allow Khmer vendors to enter to sell goods in the market yet.

“The Thai authority has only agreed in principle to allow vendors to enter the market to check and return goods to Cambodia and only allows 50 trucks. But each truck can have only two people.

“Vendors also have to fill out a health form and have a health check from the Ministry of Health first.”

A Sa Kaeo provincial official also confirmed that the Poipet-Ban Khlong Luek border checkpoint was not to be opened soon.

Neither Reatrey nor deputy governor Ly Sary could be reached for further comment on Tuesday.

But Sary told reporters on Monday that the request to meet with Thai officials in Sa Kaeo province to reopen the Poipet border checkpoint was made at the request of Cambodian vendors who are worried about their livelihoods.

Ly Meng Huy, a vendor at the Rong Kluea market, told The Post that vendors wanted to enter Thailand at this time because the Covid-19 situation had improved.

He said Cambodian vendors are also worried about their goods left in the market stalls, which have not been checked on.

“It should be simplified so Cambodians can go back to the market as normal. We thought the border would be closed for only a month.

That’s why we haven’t kept our goods properly. If it rains, the water can come in from the roof and damage the products.

“Vendors have spent lots of money and some have sold cows to buy products to sell in Thailand,” he said.

Thailand has reported 3,156 Covid-19 patients and 58 deaths since January. More than 3,000 patients have fully recovered and 75 remain hospitalised.

The Bangkok Post reported on Tuesday that there were no new cases of Covid-19 in the country, with only five new imported cases from the Middle East.

The Thai government has announced its lockdown will continue until the end of the month.

In Cambodia, another new imported case of Covid-19 was confirmed on Tuesday. The man, a Cambodian-American, arrived from the US on Sunday.

The latest case brings the total number of cases to 130, of which 127 have fully recovered. There have been no deaths. Most of the cases were imported. Cambodia has also not reported any community infection.

To prevent a second wave of infections, the Ministry of Health is tightening measures at the airports’ international checkpoints to prevent transmission from one person to another.

Written by Khorn Savi
Source: Phnom Penh Post
Published on 23 June 2020
Link: https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/thailand-keep-poipet-border-shut-amid-covid

Officials push for Cambodian-Thai border opening

Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Um Reatrey on Monday met with Thai officials from Sa Kaeo province to discuss reopening the Poipet international border checkpoint.

Provincial hall spokesman Ly Sary told The Post on Monday that the government met with officials at the Customs headquarters in Thailand to discuss the matter. The Poipet-Aranyaprathet international border checkpoint has been closed since March.

He said the discussion came after Cambodians requested the re-opening.

Sary said Cambodian vendors with stalls in Rong Kluea market in Sa Kaeo province, who number about 12,000, are especially anxious to get the border open because their business has suffered since its closure.

He said the provincial hall would announce a result of the discussion following the meeting.

The request to reopen the Poipet international border checkpoint came after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation sent a letter dated June 19 to Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, stating that Prime Minister Hun Sen had agreed on June 17 to allow Vietnamese to travel in and out of the Cambodian border.

The letter signed by the ministry’s secretary of state Ouch Borith said: “The Cambodian government decided to repeal a press release and a diplomatic note dated June 18, on temporary travel restrictions between Cambodian and Vietnamese by road, water and air.”

The letter said Cambodia would apply health measures from the latest announcement by the Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 dated June 20 to Vietnamese citizens travelling to Cambodia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on Monday then sent another diplomatic note on June 22 to the Vietnamese Embassy in Cambodia concerning the restriction on cross-border movement of Cambodian and Vietnamese nationals.

The restriction has been annulled as of June 19.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong could not be reached for comment on Monday, while Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said she didn’t yet receive information regarding measures to reopen the border with Vietnam.

The Vietnamese government shut down all borders with Cambodia on March 18 without informing Cambodian authorities.

Bavet town police chief Em Sovannarith told The Post on Monday that he had seen the announcement but he said there was no formal permission from the senior leadership regarding the decision yet.

He said Cambodians along the border always ask him about the day Vietnam will open its borders.

“Cambodian citizens ask [me] because they have to go for treatment and need to take medicine from a Vietnamese hospital.

“Usually, citizens along the border go for treatment in Vietnam because it is easier to go to the neighbouring country,” he said.

Written by Khorn Savi
Source: Phnom Penh Post
Published on 22 June 2020
Link: https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/officials-push-cambodian-thai-border-opening

Police on look out for illegal border crossings

The Immigration Bureau (IB) is gearing up its efforts to prevent thousands of migrant workers from Laos and Cambodia from sneaking into Thailand illegally through natural channels to seek jobs.

Pol Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang, chief of the IB, said on Saturday immigration police are concerned about illicit border crossings as the border is still closed to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Foreigners still aren’t allowed to enter the kingdom, he said. Some migrants crossing the border illegally may bring viral infections with them which will not be caught by screening authorities, observers say.

 Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, the national police chief, had ordered him to get first-hand information in the four northeastern border provinces of Ubon Ratchathani, Si Sa Ket, Bung Kan and Nong Khai about possible crossings.

Ubon Ratchathani, Bung Kan and Nong Khai have borders with Laos while Ubon Ratchathani and Si Sa Ket have borders with Cambodia.

Pol Lt Gen Sompong was speaking yesterday when he met his immigration police at the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge crossing point in Nong Khai.

“I ordered immigration police to work closely with border police and soldiers in in arresting illegal border crossers. More importantly, state officials themselves must not get involved with such offences,” he said.

He said the immigration police will launch a campaign in the Northeast to crack down on migrant workers who illegally enter the region to work.

Pol Maj Gen Surapong Chaichan, deputy chief of the IB, who accompanied his chief to inspect the work of immigration police, said Thailand needs more migrant workers from neighbouring countries to work if the country opens its doors again.

However, he said while the country’s borders remain closed, many migrant workers have attempted to sneak in via natural channels especially the Mekong River, while some had tried to smuggle drugs in too.

He said immigration police in Nong Khai have seized more than 5 million speed pills and a large amount of dried cannabis over the past few months.

The government on Saturday reported a new case of Covid-19 infection, a Thai returning from Bahrain and in state quarantine, raising the total to 3,147 with no new deaths.

The Thai, 28, has been in a state quarantine facility in Chon Buri since returning from the Middle Eastern country on June 14.

On June 18, she tested positive but showed no symptoms, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration reported on Saturday.

The new infection brought the total number of infections in Thailand to 3,147 with 58 deaths since January.

Thailand has reported no local transmission for 26 days in a row.

Written by Nassayos NhamKham
Source: Bangkok Post
Published on 21 June 2020
Link: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1938336/police-on-look-out-for-illegal-border-crossings

PM announces launch of cash payouts for poor

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the government would launch a cash handout programme for more than 560,000 poor families starting Wednesday, while an official said the task of identifying poor families continues.

In a Facebook post, Hun Sen said on Sunday that the Covid-19 pandemic had affected the economy and left some citizens out of jobs, especially poor ones. Citizens in some remote areas were suffering from food shortages.

“The government has made efforts to come up with various ways to help in this situation. On Wednesday we will launch a formal cash handout programme to poor and vulnerable people,” the post read.

A sub-decree signed by Hun Sen and seen by The Post on Sunday said poor families in Phnom Penh and those in central city areas outside the capital classified as Levels 1 and 2 will receive a cash handout of 120,000 riel ($30) a month from the government.

A Level 1 poor family member in the capital will be assisted with 52,000 riel a month, while a Level 2 poor family member will receive 36,000 riel.

The sub-decree further said that a Level 1 poor family member outside the capital will receive 40,000 riel in assistance monthly and a Level 2 poor family member will be assisted with 28,000 riel.

Vulnerable people such as children aged five and under, people with disabilities, elderly over the age of 60 and HIV-positive families are to receive equal cash. Each person receives 40,000 riel for Level 1 and 28,000 riel for Level 2.

Poor families in the countryside will receive 80,000 riel in assistance. Vulnerable people at Level 1 will receive 24,000 riel assistance and poor families in Level 2 will receive 12,000 riel a month.

The Ministry of Planning said from June 1, it had identified 560,000 poor families consisting of 2.3 million people that are eligible for the cash handouts.

Directorate General of Planning director Theng Panhathorn told The Post on Sunday that the ministry had sent a poor family identification figure to the Ministry of Economy and Finance to determine amounts to be handed over to those families.

He said gathering statistics on poor families continues and the ministry will update the numbers again in July.

The Ministry of Planning will determine the number of poor people, while the Ministry of Economy and Finance will determine the funds to be handed out.

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, he said, is responsible for handing over the cash to the identified families.

“The number of families identified as poor is on the rise. But we have not handed out the cash yet as we need to determine the amount of funds required step by step,” he said.

Ministry of Economy and Finance spokesman Meas Soksensan didn’t reveal the amount of money to be handed over to the more than 560,000 poor families. “Samdech [Hun Sen] will announce it on June 24,” he said.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance had previously said the government had prepared $800 million to $2 billion in reserve funds for spending during Covid-19.

The funds will be used to help balance businesses in some sectors, ease the burden on workers and poor and vulnerable people.

Soksensan told reporters recently that the government had spent more than a $1 billion of the reserve funds.

Besides announcing the cash handout programme for poor families, Hun Sen called on citizens to exercise caution on Covid-19. He urged the public to use facemasks and frequently wash hands with soap and alcohol-based gels.

He said companies and managers at mass gatherings such as markets, supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops, clinics and state and private hospitals had to have alcohol and facemasks for their clients to stop person-to-person transmission.

The Ministry of Health on Sunday announced that it had not detected a new case. But Cambodia reported another Covid-19 patient had recovered, bringing the total to 127 out of 129 patients.

However, the ministry called on citizens to exercise extreme vigilance. It said they have to live a life of the new normal and adopt protective measures consistently.

Washing hands frequently, wearing facemasks or scarves when necessary, using the elbow to cover the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and practising social and physical distancing is a must, it said.

Written by Khorn Savi
Source: Phnom Penh Post
Published on 21 June 2020
Link: https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/pm-announces-launch-cash-payouts-poor

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