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IDPoor cards revoked from 6,000 families over discovery of fraud

Khann Chanvirak / Khmer Times Share:
Kampong Speu provincial governor Vey Samnang distributes equity cards to poor families. Supplied

Over 6,000 families from the first two rounds of IDPoor registration were found to have manipulated their socio-economic status to benefit from the government-funded cash aid scheme, the Ministry of Planning said yesterday.

“The manipulation was discovered after several poor families who received the allowance saw some of the well-off families receiving cash too,” said director of the ministry’s planning department, Theng Pagnathun.

He said the figure is the cumulative number of families – 4,000 during the first round and 2,000 during the first round – found to have registered their names for the aid despite belonging in the middle- to high-earning households.

He said most of the families found during the first round were from the provinces of Pursat, Kampong Chhnang and Kandal. The government has since revoked their IDPoor cards.

In response to the discovery, Pagnathun said it was difficult to lay the blame on local authorities as he said some of them lack understanding about the technical procedures of registration and corresponding eligibility checks, a problem worsened by families who are intent on deceiving the officials to receive the cash aid.

“After a circular from the Ministry of Interior, a tighter inspection process has been enforced. Planning officials now have to go directly to the areas and conduct the interviews themselves as they no longer trust the local authorities’ capacity to do the checks properly,” he said.

On June 30, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned action against village chiefs and commune councillors should any irregularities be found in the enforcement of the poor aid scheme, which was launched last month to help vulnerable families amid the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.

People Center for Development and Peace president Yong Kim Eng previously lauded the initiative but said: “The government must act without political prejudice. The authorities should not practice nepotism and should instead earn the trust of the people by working with independent partners to jointly identify the poor.”

Per the scheme, poor households affected by the COVID-19 would receive a monthly subsidy of up to $30 per person. Some 530,000 poor and vulnerable households received a total of approximately $25 million during the first round of cash aid disbursements while 50,000 families registered for the second round are awaiting aid.

Earlier this month, Germany donated more than $1 million to the Cambodian government to expedite the process of poor household identification and registration.

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