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COVID-19 war chest at $400 million: Finance Ministry

Sun Mesa / Khmer Times Share:
People wear face masks to protect themselves against coronavirus. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Finance Ministry yesterday reported the government accumulated approximately $400 million in savings to be used during COVID-19 emergency cases in the Kingdom.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday slashed government spending by at least 25 percent to save money amid coronavirus fears.

Meas Sok Sensan, spokesman for the Finance Ministry, yesterday said his institution has already disbursed $30 million to the Health Ministry for the fight against the virus in the Kingdom.

“We have saved $400 million after making expenditure cuts,” Mr Sok Sesan said. “The money is for a longterm fight against COVID-19.”

“We are trying to save money by [cutting] unnecessary ministry expenses,” Mr Sok Sensan said. “We ensured all ministries will not be badly affected as they save money.”

He said all ministries can save money by cutting spending on overseas meetings, materials and services.

“Ministries are still listing which expenditures will be cut,” Mr Sok Sensan said. “We need to save money because of what is happening in Siem Reap.”

He was referring to a man from Japan who tested positive for COVID-19 after travelling through Siem Reap province.

Three people the man came into contact with during his stay in the Kingdom tested negative for the virus yesterday, but they are being quarantined for 14 days at the Siem Reap Provincial Referral Hospital.

“I decided for institutions to reduce expenditures by 50 percent,” Mr Hun Sen said last week. “The Ministries of Foreign Affairs; and Commerce, and the Council of Ministers will reduce expenditures by only 25 percent.”

He said fighting COVID-19 is the Kingdom’s current top priority.

Another Finance Ministry spokesman Eng Touch yesterday said every ministry is focused on preventing an outbreak in Siem Reap.

“I cannot say how the money will be used because we started working after getting the order from the prime minister,” Mr Touch said.

Health Ministry spokesman Ly Sovann yesterday said his ministry will spend the $30 million to prevent an outbreak in Siem Reap and purchase equipment.

Mr Sovann said the money will be used to purchase protective suits, medicine and vaccination, should it be available.

“We have done a good job in the case of Siem Reap and work has been done on time,” he added.

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