The CPP-dominated National Assembly on Wednesday approved a law that will see the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy split into two separate ministries, but has yet to decide who will head the new bodies.
The CPP’s 68 lawmakers unanimously passed a measure that will see the creation of the new Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts, said CPP lawmaker and party spokesman Cheam Yeap.
Mr. Yeap said that the $6.3 million budget for the original ministry allocated in the 2014 national budget, which was passed earlier this week, will simply be divided in two for use by both ministries.
“The spending for 2014 approved by the National Assembly for the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy will be split into two parts,” Mr. Yeap said.
Despite previous statements from Mr. Yeap that splitting the two ministries was necessary because there was too much work for one ministry to do alone, he said Wednesday that no new staff would be hired for the two newly formed ministries.
“There are a lot of people working at the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy so the number of those officials will be divided into two parts for work at the new ministries based on their skills and professions,” he said.
Although Mr. Yeap declined to confirm local media reports that Suy Sem, the recently ousted Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy would be hired back to head the Ministry of Mines and Energy, he said he thought Mr. Sem would be a good fit for his old job.
“If he is back in the position of Minister of Mines and Energy, it would not be a problem since he has a lot of experience,” Mr. Yeap said.
Mr. Yeap said the government has yet to decide on the fate of Cham Prasidh, who after July’s election was moved from Minister of Commerce to Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy. Now with the split of the ministry in two, it is not known which ministry he will lead.
The type of handicrafts referred to in the new ministry’s portfolio include handmade products such as silk, traditionally woven clothes, kramas, hats, sculptures of traditional spirits, Apsara figurines and other souvenirs, Mr. Yeap explained.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said that the decision to split the ministries was made by Prime Minister Hun Sen in order to divide tasks and ensure accountability in their proper implementation.
“Especially the policy to push the handicraft sector to take small-scale enterprises and enrich the industry so they can become medium-scale enterprises,” he said.