Benefits for Some Soldiers’ Families To Be Axed

The families of more than 3,000 handicapped RCAF soldiers in Prey Veng province will soon lose their monthly benefits, which gov­ern­­ment officials said they had in some cases fraudulently receiv­ed for many years.

Officials at the Ministry of Social Af­fairs, which is responsible for distributing the benefits, said Wednes­day that the cuts would likely save the government about $25,000 per month and that up to 10,000 more families could be removed from pay­­­rolls in coming months.

“We believe there are even more,” said Yi Yuan, secretary of state at the ministry.

“But we won’t find them all at once. It is difficult and complicated work.”

He said many wives and children of handicapped soldiers continued to receive monthly benefits even af­ter their husbands had died.

According to law, he said, they should have received a lump sum after the death instead of continuing to receive monthly payments.

In other cases, he said, offspring who are over 18 and widows who had remarried continued to receive ben­efits, openly flouting regulations.

Yi Yuan said the money saved by re­moving names from the payroll would allow the government to take better care of handicapped soldiers who are still alive.

“We will create a foundation to help them improve their standard of living,” he said, “because in the past they have lost a lot of money by pawning their names”—thus al­low­ing others to collect their benefits.

Asked why the crackdown was occurring now, Teing Sakhorn, dep­­uty director of Prey Veng social affairs department, said the delay was the result of bureaucratic re­structuring, explaining that the ad­ministration of the benefit program had recently been transferred from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to the Ministry of Social Affairs.

“We had irregularities because the transfer was late and because of political deadlock,” he said.


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