Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mekong body risks losing funds: donors

Mekong body risks losing funds: donors

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A man fishes near the proposed Don Sahong hydropower project site in the Siphandone area of southern Laos in 2012. INTERNATIONAL RIVERS

Mekong body risks losing funds: donors

The Mekong River Commission must “urgently” clarify how it will restructure and fund itself in the future or risk donors pulling out, development partners said yesterday, as it emerged funding for the intergovernmental body would likely be “much lower” than the MRC had anticipated.

Following three days of meetings in the Laotian capital, Vientiane, the MRC’s development partners released a joint statement calling for more information on “critical” reforms to its governing bodies.

The statement – endorsed by Australia, the European Union, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and the United States, among others – comes less than a week after the MRC referred Laos’ controversial Don Sahong dam to national governments after talks through the body failed.

With six months of strategic planning left for the next funding cycle, donors’ chief concerns surround uncertainty over the future of the MRC’s leadership, organisational structure, staffing, funding arrangements and the cost-sharing formula between member countries.

“Without clarity on these issues as a matter of urgency, many development partners will not be in a position to provide funding for 2016-2020,” the statement said.

As the body seeks to finalise its planning for the coming years, the donor statement questioned how the committee would handle a foreseen downsizing as MRC programs wind up this year, saying “managing staff transition has become critical”.

“There is a high level of uncertainty among staff, with many staff operating without contracts, and an unclear process for hiring under the future structure,” it reads.

The statement also recommended the MRC prioritise its outcomes and suggest alternative plans as donors’ current combined funding of about $33 million was “much lower” than the amount assumed in the plan.

An update on the MRC’s review of its prior consultation process was also called for, in light of “challenges” raised by the proposed Don Sahong dam, which, although opposed by Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, is being pushed by Laos.

It also suggested tributary projects, such as the planned Lower Sesan 2 project in Stung Treng province, also go through prior consultation, currently only a requirement for mainstream Mekong dams.

MOST VIEWED

  • Malaysia MP accused of ‘influencing law’

    Malaysian Member of Parliament (MP) Larry Sng arrived in Siem Reap early on Wednesday, in what was slammed by one NGO as efforts by Kuala Lumpur to “influence Cambodian law”. The Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh requested on January 30 “cooperation from the Ministry of Foreign

  • Ministries begin measures to offset EU’s EBA decision

    In the wake of the EU’s controversial announcement this week that it has begun the withdrawal process for Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential agreement, government ministries and political analysts continued to share their reactions and economic mitigation plans in preparation for the

  • Emirates launches route connecting Phnom Penh, Bangkok

    Emirates will launch a daily service on June 1 linking Phnom Penh (PNH) and Bangkok (BKK). The service from Phnom Penh to Dubai, via Bangkok, will provide more flight options to passengers travelling between the capitals of Cambodia and Thailand. Travellers from the Southeast Asian nations

  • US Embassy urged to stop ‘disrespecting sovereignty’

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Saturday to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations after it called former opposition leader Kem Sokha “an innocent man” – a move deemed to be “disrespecting Cambodia’s