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Calls for Kingdom to join transparency group

A new US commitment to oil and mining transparency may push the Kingdom closer to a similar agreement, Cambodian experts have said.

US President Barak Obama announced earlier this week that the US would join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative as an implementing country, according to a White House statement. The pledge, the first from a G8 country, commits the United States to public disclosure of revenues from oil, gas and mining assets.

Cambodia considered EITI membership in 2007 but has since declined to sign on.

The signatory status of the world’s biggest oil consumer, however, could result in more pressure on the Kingdom to do the same, Cambodians for Resource Revenue Transparency (CRRT) chairman Mam Sambath said yesterday.

“The US decision to join the EITI is a powerful endorsement of EITI and its guiding principles, not just within Cambodia but worldwide,” Mam Sambath said.

“As one of the world’s most powerful countries and most vibrant economies, the US has tremendous credibility in the global marketplace.”

EITI hopes other countries will follow in the United States’ footsteps, EITI spokesman Anders Tunold Krakenes said yesterday.

To date, Cambodia has not published any payments from oil or mining in EITI reports, he added.

While officials at the Cambodia National Petroleum Authority did not return requests for comment, Mam Sambath said the government declined to join the initiative because it claimed to already follow government-decreed transparency and accountability principles.

But he claimed EITI membership boosts investor confidence in ways that Cambodia’s own transparency standards do not.

“In short, it’s good business to be part of EITI.”

“CRRT still sees tremendous merit in joining the EITI as tangible evidence that Cambodia embraces the standards of principles set by the global community as those which best suit the needs of all involved stakeholders.”

Cambodia is not alone in abstaining from membership. The UK declined EITI membership this week, saying it would be inappropriate to reveal domestic financial dealings with extractive companies, the Guardian reported.

Officials at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment.

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