Prime Minister Hun Sen confirmed yesterday that at least some of the 70,000 cubic metres of wood seized by the anti-logging committee would go up for auction, contradicting his March pledge to stop such sales and hand the remaining timber to the Ministry of Education.
“Some timber is going to die [if we wait] for the teachers to transport it,” Hun Sen said during a graduation ceremony at Koh Pich.
“Therefore, we have established a committee to put the [timber] up for bid in the country but not for export.” He said that revenue from the auction would be used to buy construction materials for more schools.
Anti-logging committee spokesman Eng Hy said most of the timber remained in forests around Kratie, Mondulkiri and Stung Treng where it had been found.
Both Hy and Forestry Administration director Chheng Kim Sun said they didn’t know any specifics about the proposed auction.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said that the Education Ministry was not guaranteed to get all the revenue.
“Normally, it would be [divided among] relevant ministries such as the ministries of education, economy and finance, agriculture, environment and the Forestry Administration,” said Siphan.
Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Yim Sovann said his party’s lawmakers were continuing to call for greater transparency in the bidding process, a request that the ruling party still has not fulfilled.
“The suspicion of the lack of transparency has remained for every state asset put up for bid,” said Sovann.
Additional reporting by Igor Kossov