Cambodia Civil Society Makes Push for EITI Adoption

Country: Cambodia
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Cambodians for Resources Revenues Transparency (CRRT), RWI’s partner in Cambodia, organized a national conference promoting best practices in the oil, gas and mining industries and revenue management on 2 November. More than 150 government representatives, NGOs, journalists, university students and donors gathered in Phnom Penh for the event.

Dr. Cheam Yeap, Chairman of the Commission on Economic, Finance, Banking and Auditing of the Cambodia National Assembly, opened the forum, one in the series of events CRRT organizes every year to promote good governance in this sector and to raise awareness of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and push the Cambodian government to consider EITI adoption. So far, the government has remained unreceptive.

Chevron plans to start drilling for oil in 2016, generating increasing revenues from that year, so civil society organizations are pushing for transparent governance of the oil, gas and mining to be at the top the political agenda. The discussion focused in particular on EITI and on revenue management models. After Sim Sokhaly, Deputy General Director from the Cambodian Ministry of Industry, Mining and Energy, outlined the status, forecasts and challenges in the sector, the Heads of EITI Secretariat from Azerbaijan, Farid Farzaliyev, and Indonesia, Emy Perdanahari, explained the incentives that convinced their governments join EITI. Farzaliyev and Perdanahari said their countries wanted to improve their governance and management of the industries, demonstrate their commitment to promote transparency and fight corruption, create business opportunities and see an overall improvement in international image. They also emphasized the key role played by civil society groups in their respective countries' EITI adoption and implementation.

Representatives from the CRRT coalition introduced how they have been engaging in these issues and discussed policy options in revenue sharing. The forum allowed university students, young activists and journalists to raise critical questions for the future of Cambodia: how Cambodians can benefit most from these new revenues, how to build a long-term plan for fair and sustainable development and how the country could benefit from EITI.

While Cambodian authorities are currently working on drafting and amending the national legislative framework related to the oil, gas and mining industries, pushing good governance, transparency and accountability onto the agenda is urgent. As some participants emphasized, as a new oil producer, Cambodia has an opportunity to establish strong governance standards so these new revenues will benefit all Cambodians and make a real difference for the development of the country and the well-being of its citizens. Lots of work, advocacy and mobilization, have to be done by civil society groups to influence the government and make this hope materialize.

Matthieu Salomon is RWI Asia Pacific Ikat Program Manager.

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