Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rice fraud deal struck

Rice fraud deal struck

Rice fraud deal struck

The government has agreed to compensate the United Nations World Food Program

(WFP) $900,000 for rice stolen in 2003 and 2004, and promised to take actions

against those responsible.

The agreement was signed February 28 - exactly

one year after the thefts were discovered - by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An,

said Ramaraj Saravanamuttu, deputy country director of WFP April

20.

Compensation will be paid in cash, in three installments, over the

next three years, and WFP are in discussions about restarting the Food For Work

(FFW) program which was defrauded, he said.

"WFP is hopeful that FFW

activities will be able to resume in May 2005, subject to ongoing consultations

with our partners, including donors," Saravanamuttu said.

"A key aspect

of these activities would be to alleviate the effects of the current drought,"

he said.

The agreement falls well short of earlier estimates putting the

value of the 4,000 metric tons of rice and other food that went missing at $2

million.

However, at the time the thefts were made public, in August last

year, Council of Ministers spokesman Sean Visoth said he believed the figure was

less than $2 million.

The FFW program employed impoverished Cambodians

to provide manual labor in exchange for food aid, but truckloads of rice went

missing between January 2003 and April 2004.

WFP discovered the thefts

when a significant number of trucks did not arrive at their destination on a

February 28 delivery, but the FFW program continued for another six weeks while

a team from WFP headquarters in Rome investigated.

Cambodia's biggest

food-aid donor suspended the FFW scheme in mid-April 2004 but has continued its

other programs so as not to unfairly penalize the "hungry poor", Saravanamuttu

told the Post.

He said new measures are being introduced to prevent

against future problems. Those measures include greater community involvement,

changes to staff and enhanced monitoring.

The agreement with the

government comes shortly after WFP announced it would begin distributing 1,500

metric tons of rice to more than 150,000 people suffering from food shortages

caused by recent drought.

MOST VIEWED

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • Quarantine still a must for all arrivals, in next Covid chapter

    Since early May, an average of five to 10 Cambodian people have died from Covid-19 a day with many others testing positive amid the ongoing community outbreak. At the same time, however, hundreds of patients also recovered a day. The first Covid-19 case in Cambodia was

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • Jab drive heading to 5 provinces

    The government is set to vaccinate more than 1.2 million people in five provinces after finishing with Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal in an ongoing campaign administered by the ministries of Health and National Defence. The five provinces are Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampong Cham

  • New immigration bill targets illegal foreigners in Kingdom

    General Department of Immigration (GDI) officials are discussing revisions to the new draft law on immigration to prevent foreigners from entering Cambodia illegally and to supervise those living in the Kingdom more effectively. The revisions draw wide support among civil society organisations. GDI director-general Kirth

  • First commercial gold mine online

    Australian miner Renaissance Minerals (Cambodia) Ltd on June 21 began the commercial operation of its $120 million Okvau Gold Project in the northeastern province of Mondulkiri, becoming the Kingdom’s first gold producer. Located in the Okvau area in southwestern Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima district, the