Government Sets New Dates for Auctions of Seized Timber

The government has set new dates for auctioning off millions of dollars worth of illegally logged timber after its first attempt to sell the wood—seized by authorities in Mondolkiri province—attracted insufficient interest.

The first auction, scheduled for Monday, was canceled because too few potential buyers registered to participate, said Soung Mengkea, an undersecretary of state at the Finance Ministry.

On Tuesday, he said all seven auctions planned in Mondolkiri between Monday and Friday had been rescheduled, although he declined to say what, if anything, the government would do to attract additional buyers.

A ministry statement said the auctions—offering 62,000 cubic meters of timber for a combined initial asking price of $12.2 million—would now take place between July 18 and 22.

Mr. Mengkea said the government would decide later whether to also reschedule auctions for another 9,000 cubic meters of wood set for July 12 to 15 in the provinces of Kratie, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri and Tbong Khmum.

All of the wood was seized by a new task force established by Prime Minister Hun Sen in mid-January.

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