Government Receives $10M in Donations, Pledges to Fight Covid-19

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People walk in and out of the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh on March 19, 2020. (Chorn Chanren/VOD)

Cambodia’s anti-Covid-19 committee said on Thursday that the government had raised $10 million from private donors as well as ministers pledging to donate their salaries.

Seng Tieng, a member of the committee, which was established last month amid the spread of the global pandemic, said donors had pledged a total of $10,170,000, though some of the money had not been received yet.

The number of coronavirus cases in Cambodia reached 110 on Thursday, according to the Health Ministry, an increase of one from the day prior. A total of 34 people have so far recovered, the ministry said.

As the government prepares stricter measures to try to contain the virus’s spread, several government officials, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, have pledged to donate several months of their nominal salaries, of around $1,250 to $2,500 a month.

Hun Sen on Wednesday declared he would give seven months of his salary to the state’s Covid-19 response and prevention campaign.

The prime minister’s official salary is 10 million riel ($2,500) per month, which would amount to a total of 70 million riel ($17,500) across the period. According to a Global Witness report, Hun Sen’s family is worth much more, with a network of businesses across Cambodia that have a total registered value of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Several senior government officials have said they too would donate six or seven months of their salaries — reportedly 5 million riel ($1,250) per month — including newly promoted Justice Minister Keuth Rith, Telecommunications Minister Chea Vandeth, Environment Minister Say Samal and Land Minister Chea Sophara.

Tieng said he expects more senior officials to donate their salaries to the effort.

Several tycoons have posted on social media that they are making donations to support Cambodia during the pandemic, though it is unclear if their contributions were counted in the committee’s fund. Cambodia additionally received $20 million through the World Bank’s Covid-19 fund to support the country’s public health systems through the global crisis. In recent speeches, Hun Sen has asked for contributions to the government’s Covid-19 response and prevention campaign, which accelerated this week after the premier said the government was preparing a state of emergency law. 

Pich Sros, a member of one of the government’s advisory councils, applauded the move from civil servants. However, Sros, who also leads the Cambodian Youth Party, added that the government also needs to free more funds to aid citizens who stand to lose income.

“The other issue for people at the moment is not just Covid-19, but people are worried about not having enough money to pay the bank,” he said. “Look at Thailand. They started to find solutions for citizens with bank debt because they knew it would help relieve people from their suffering.”

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)


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