A Draft of the long-anticipated petroleum law is to be finalised by Cambodia’s National Petroleum Authority this week.
A CNPA official, who took part in drafting the regulations, said the authority would hold a meeting this week to finalise a suggested framework for oil extraction.
The draft would then be passed to the Council of Ministers. If approved, it would be handed to the National Assembly and the Senate before being passed into law by the King.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he said the law was not expected to change a great deal when it reached the Council of Ministers, as key partners such as the World Bank had participated in its drafting.
“It is at an international standard,” he said. Taxation provisions were contained in the draft, he said, but further consultation was required with the Ministry of Economy and Finance before levels were finalised.
Commentators welcomed the development.
Cambodians for Resources Revenue Transparency Chairman Mam Sambath, who had seen a draft of the law, said the most important element was a requirement to disclose the terms of contracts agreed between the government and industry players.
“I think the draft law will increase transparency,” he said. However, he said engagement of civil society was very important – and had been largely missing so far.
A public consultation had not been conducted, nor had the draft been publicly distributed, he said.
Cheam Yeap, chairman of the Economy, Finance, Banking and Audit Commission at the National Assembly, confirmed the draft was near completion, and said that the government was committed to passing the law before December 12, 2012, the deadline Deputy Prime Minister Sok An had set for oil to flow in the Kingdom.
“We have to completely avoid the oil curse. By contrast, we have to receive an oil blessing,” he said. Some experts have written of a “resource curse”, saying economic growth tends to be weaker in countries that contain valuable commodities.
CNPA Director General Te Doung Tara declined to comment, as did spokespeople from energy giants Chevron and Total.