Cambodia-EU: The debate on ‘trade-not-aid’

To Cambodia as well as the rest of the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has presented the worst form of challenges to fundamental human rights, ranging from the right to life to decent jobs, education, food and shelter. The loss of direct income due to the disruption of global production and supply chains has already forced 400 garment, footwear and travel-goods factories in Cambodia to suspend their operations, leaving more than 150,000 workers jobless.

Amid these challenges, Cambodia recently launched a large-scale cash transfer program for poor and vulnerable households to sustain the livelihoods of those hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis. The government is expected to spend US$25 million monthly, benefiting 560,000 households or 2.3 million Cambodian people.

Some critics say this social-security scheme is “too little” as it will not do much to help people cover their expenses, noting that residents of Phnom Penh need at least $300 a month to meet their needs while those in rural areas require at least $190.

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