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Minister to be grilled on sand export discrepancy

Suy Sem, Minister of Mines and Energy, at a meeting in Phnom Penh in 2015.
Suy Sem, Minister of Mines and Energy, at a meeting in Phnom Penh in 2015. Heng Chivoan

Minister to be grilled on sand export discrepancy

Minister for Mines and Energy Suy Sem will appear at the National Assembly on Thursday to answer questions about a more than $700 million discrepancy in data on sand exports to Singapore, according to a letter signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In the letter, sent to National Assembly President Heng Samrin on Monday, the premier requests that Sem field questions from the assembly’s anti-corruption commission, led by CNRP lawmaker Ho Vann.

Pressure has been building on the ministry to respond after UN data showed $752 million in imports of sand from Cambodia to Singapore since 2007, a figure that dwarfed the $5 million reported by the Cambodian government.

Speaking yesterday, Vann said he would grill the minister over the apparent lost revenue and about how many companies were currently operating in the Kingdom’s lucrative sand-dredging sector.

“If there has not been a loss [of revenue], I hope he provides proof to confirm this for us,” Vann said. The premier also requested the Health Minister Mam Bun Heng appear for questioning at the assembly over allegations of graft, incompetence and poor service within his portfolio, though no specific date was set.

The Health Ministry has come under repeated fire, particularly its National Malaria Centre, which was the subject of a massive corruption scandal relating to Global Fund contracts. A more recent Post investigation found evidence of graft in its use of travel funds supplied by donors.

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