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NGOs: Reorient mining fund provisions

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Officials inspect a mining site in Kratie province’s Snuol district in June last year. Photo supplied

NGOs: Reorient mining fund provisions

OXFAM Cambodia and the NGO Affiliated Network for Social Accountability (ANSA) will jointly implement a project aimed at providing input to the government’s mineral resource development fund.

The organisations said the project, Improve Access to Mining Development Fund for Affected Communities in Cambodia, came after they had observed that mineral tax revenues did not seem to address problems on the ground or help communities affected by mining.

In a joint press release on March 25, they said that during 2015 the Ministry of Mines and Energy established a mineral resource development fund for communities affected by mining activities. Income is generated from taxes, fines and services. The fund would be used for development such as roads, schools and wells.

The NGOs initiated the project to contribute to the government in developing and proposing standard operational procedures to help communities affected by mining investment.

The project will include research, consultation with national and sub-national administrations, civil society organisations and communities in order to improve the effectiveness of access to the mining fund for community development.

Oxfam country director Lim Solinn said: “Investment in the extractive industries has grown rapidly in Cambodia. Oxfam wants to see this sector invest in a sustainable way, contributing to poverty reduction and reduce their impact on society and the environment. And the revenue collected will be managed responsibly.”

Energy ministry spokesman Yos Mony Rath told The Post on March 28 that his ministry is in charge of the mining development fund for affected communities, but he was unaware of the project.

“I don’t understand why these two organisations made a press release regarding this project. It is a government initiative that set up a mining fund to support local community development through the energy ministry.

“In reality, we don’t even need these organisations to participate because we have our clear procedures to deal with the local community. We have a mechanism for communes that are directly and indirectly affected by mining,” he said, adding that the ministry manages the fund based on the budget for each project and affected community.

He said it would be better if the organisations were willing to raise additional funds to support the affected communities.

ANSA executive director San Chey said the project was only designed to ensure effective and transparent funding from mining businesses.

“What we are doing is to have one standard operational procedure with input from civil organisations and the local community for the government to consider when allocating funds,” he said.

Chey hoped that the results obtained from the implementation of the pilot project for 2021 in all affected communities will be accepted by the government, especially the energy ministry, and the fund will be managed with transparency and accountability.

Citing figures from the ministry’s annual meeting in February last year, the NGOs said 17 companies were granted licences for mining business, while 37 licences were given to mine exploration firms. They said 323 other companies were granted licences for mining in construction.

And in late March of last year, the ministry issued 16 new licences to mining companies in six provinces including Mondulkiri, Preah Vihear, Kratie, Stung Treng, Siem Reap and Kampong Thom, the joint press release said.

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