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

  • All foreigners' accommodations to be inspected: Sar Kheng

    The Ministry of Interior is undertaking a serious effort to inspect all the accommodations of foreigners in Cambodia – except diplomats – in order to find and identify human traffickers. Minister Sar Kheng said this would include inspections on the homes of foreigners employed by businesses, private

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • NBC eyes KHQR payments in Laos, Vietnam

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) is working with Lao and Vietnamese authorities to expand the use of KHQR code cross-border payment systems to promote trade and investment as well as increase the scope of regional economic linkages, and in particular, facilitate remittances from overseas