Cambodia to provide cash to poor hit by COVID-19 outbreak

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia has established a program to give cash handouts to the country’s poorest households to alleviate the financial burden caused by the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced Wednesday that the government will spend $25 million a month to provide money to 560,000 households identified by an existing program as the poorest. He said the cash transfers will be carried out in June and July, and will be extended or expanded in the following months according to economic conditions.

The 560,000 households account for about 2.3 million Cambodians, or about 14% of the almost 17 million population.

The program will provide $20 to rural families and $30 to urban families because living expenses are higher in cities, Hun Sen said. The transfers will be supplemented by smaller payments for each family member, and an additional $10 for live-in parents over the age of 60 and family members who have HIV infections.

The World Bank said last month that Cambodia’s economy is likely to contract by between 1% and 2.9% this year, its worst performance since 1994. Cambodia has confirmed just 130 cases of COVID-19 with no deaths. But the collapse of tourism and drop in international demand for garments, its main export, have devastated its two biggest sources of income.