The government on Thursday granted all civil servants, soldiers, police, retired civil servants, and veterans a $5 monthly bonus in addition to their basic salaries, officials said.
According to a copy of a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday, the Ministry of Finance must add $5 to the monthly pay or pensions to “support their living standard.” The monthly bonus will remain in place through the end of the year, it also stated.
However, political appointees ranking from undersecretary of state upward will not receive the bonus.
Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said he was not aware of the bonus and declined to comment.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the government has decided to give the bonus because of the global financial crisis and increasing prices in Cambodia.
“Samdech Hun Sen has promised to increase national budget expenditure; he has requested to give a small bonus to support people in time of the high inflation,” Cheam Yeap said.
He added that the government has taken in enough revenue to grant the bonuses. “Our revenue is stable, so Samdech Hun Sen has given the $5 bonus,” he said.
SRP lawmaker and party spokesman Yim Sovann said he doubted that $5 would do much to improve anyone’s living standard.
“We welcome the bonus, but it is not enough,” he said, adding that people need at least $150 a month to live in a dignified manner—far more than most government employees officially take home.
“Giving them enough money will reduce corruption,” he added.
Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association President Rong Chhun also said it wasn’t enough.
“Five dollars doesn’t make the teachers’ living standard better. If the government wants to improve the teacher’s living standards, they must give more,” he said.
Cheam Yeap said of the bonus recipients that, “Even though, we can’t serve their need,” he said, “this will help their living standards.”