Siem Reap province’s Social Affairs Department will begin paying out four years’ worth of owed benefits to the relatives of 1,390 deceased RCAF personnel starting Tuesday, a government official said yesterday.
“On Sept 28, we will pay [the pensions] as packages to some of the veterans’ and deceased soldiers’ families who have not been paid yet,” said Lim El Djurado, spokesman for the Ministry of Social Affairs. How much each family receives will depend on the soldier’s rank and how many eligible relatives they left behind, Mr El Djurado said.
The announcement came three weeks after 35 representatives of the families appealed to National Assembly President Heng Samrin for help in recovering the pensions.
According to Mr El Djurado, the government transferred responsibility for paying out the pension from RCAF Region 4 to the province in 2006. And though he said he did not know how much money the families were owed in total, he insisted that none of it had been lost or misspent.
Mr El Djurado attributed the delay to bureaucracy. After receiving a list of the deceased soldiers from the Defense Ministry, he said, Social Affairs must check and double check the identity of the relatives due to receive the pensions before sending the names to the Finance Ministry.
“It takes time for the officials to work. That is why it is late,” he said.
Mr El Djurado said relatives would now be able to pick up their pensions every month.
Mao Boren, the son of an RCAF soldier who died of malaria in 2000, said he did not know how much money he was owed for the past four years.
“We were informed by the Department of Social Affairs to go to the department to receive our pensions,” he said.
Thim Kunthea, an RCAF soldier’s widow, said she was owed more than 100,000 riel, or about $25, and remained wary of the government’s promise to pay.
“I cannot be happy yet because I do not know whether they will give me the pension,” she said.