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State must be become transparent

Dear Editor,

Steve Finch is right: The Cambodian government must do more to disclose payments made by companies operating within the country’s extractive-industries sector (“Go further with disclosure and embrace EITI, September 10).

The Ministry of Economy and Finance’s recent publication of revenues from the extractive industry for the first half of 2010 is a welcome first step towards improving transparency within a notoriously opaque sector.

However, it remains unclear whether the 112.21 billion-riel payment received in March 2010 corresponds to the US$28 million payment made by French oil company Total in January for rights to offshore Block 3.

The continued uncertainty reiterates the need for the kind of transparency offered by the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative, which if implemented would give public access to such detailed information.

But regardless of how long the Cambodian government takes to endorse the EITI, many of the international petroleum companies currently allocated exploration rights in Cambodia will soon be required to disclose information on all payments they make to the government.

The recently passed United States Financial Reform Bill requires companies registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to disclose all payments made to foreign governments on a country-by-country basis, as a condition of their stock exchange listing.

Eleanor Nichols
Global Witness

Send letters to: newsroom@phnompenhpost.com or PO?Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length. The views expressed above are solely the authors’ and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

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