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- 06/01/2021 4:17 PM
while the authorities continue to identify those who should receive the cash payments
PHNOM PENH-- The Ministry of Planning has withdrawn equity cards from 14,000 families across the country after they were found to have living conditions above requirements to qualify for the IDPoor Program.
Ministry of Planning spokesperson Srey Da on Dec. 25 said that, since the Cambodian government has launched the IDPoor program—a subsidy initiative to provide low levels of financial support to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable—irregularities concerning 14,000 families have been reported.
"The Ministry of Planning continues to address all the problems arising in identifying the poor households," he said in a written interview.
According to Da, the ministry's working group is ongoingly working to find people in need who qualify for the program—those who do are issued IDPoor cards—and investigate those who have taken advantage of it but don’t meet the requirements.
“There is a responsible team who takes action immediately after receiving information on irregularities from the media as well as in any report through social media, and we also continue to identify the families who are living in poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic [and should receive support],” he said.
Da had previously mentioned that some irregularities taking place were due to collusion between families whose income was above the program’s requirements and the local authorities as well as the authorities’ lack of scrutiny over the process of granting IDPoor cards.
“The ministry warned and instructed the authorities to properly prevent and address these issues,” he said.
During an interview in August 2020, Ministry of Social Affairs spokesperson Toch Channy had explained that families whose IDPoor cards had been invalidated would not receive monthly cash support.
He had also mentioned that the government was not planning to collect the money they had received based on false representation as the authorities did not want to provoke their indignation, which could lead to protest.
The IDPoor Program, which has been managed by the Ministry of Planning with support from the German development agency GIZ and the Australian government, was recently co-opted by the government as a means of mitigating the economic fallout of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that has seen hundreds of thousands of Cambodians lose their jobs or income.
In June 2020, the government has pledged to spend $25 million per month to fund the program, later increasing the amount to $28 million in a bid to support the country’s poorest and most vulnerable.
On Dec. 23, 2020, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced a fourth round of cash support for the program to run through the end of March 2021 to help improve and stabilize the lives of people during the pandemic.
In his announcement posted on his Facebook page, Hun Sen raised the issue of irregularities. He ordered the authorities to take strong measures to curb them and also to take strong measures against government officials at every level of government who are found to have been involved in those irregularities.