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Purchase of pyrotechnics ignites debate

Purchase of pyrotechnics ignites debate

ARECENT spate of national celebrations had the government spending upwards of US$50,000 on pyrotechnics last month. But the Kingdom's fireworks makers are crying foul, saying preference was given to Chinese firms at the expense of local manufacturers.

"In previous years, I could earn a lot of money. This year I've only sold about $4,500 worth of fireworks for the Water Festival," said Cheang Kim, a fireworks maker from Kampong Speu province.

He said that  the government had opted to purchase the bulk of fireworks used this year from Chinese companies.

Last week's three-day Water Festival included pyrotechnic displays on each night of the celebration.

According to Chea Kean, deputy director of the National and International Festival Committee, for this year's Water Festival, Independence Day and Coronation Day celebrations, the government spent about US$50,000 on pyrotechnics consisting of both foreign-made fireworks and local brands manufactured in Kampong Speu province.

He defended the decision to purchase foreign-made products, saying "we bought thousands of fireworks from China because they are higher quality and made to international standards".

A matter of safety

According to one government official, the decision to purchase foreign-made fireworks was guided by the need to ensure the safety of spectators at what was expected to be the largest-ever  Water Festival.

Officials predicted that as many as four million people would converge on the capital. No attendance figures have been given yet.

"We don't want to buy large amounts of locally-made fireworks because they are made by hand, and we're concerned about the safety of people attending the celebration," said Ith Sarath, a major general at the Ministry of Defence.

 Spending figures from last year's festival were not available. 

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