CPP Parliament Approves Two Ministers, 2014 Budget

CPP lawmakers including Prime Minister Hun Sen unanimously voted Friday for their party members, Suy Sem and Cham Prasidh, to become heads of the newly created Ministry of Mines and Energy, and the Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts, respectively.

The 67 ruling-party parliamentarians present also approved 15 other secretaries of state for jobs at five ministries: the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

“In accordance with the voting result, I declare…that this component of the government’s members…have been voted in by members of parliament,” National Assembly President Heng Samrin said after the vote.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said that it was essential to divide the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy into the two separate ministries. “It’s very important to split this ministry into two separate ministries because the scale of work is great,” he said.

“It’s worth splitting it to ensure the effectiveness in enriching the power sector and the small-scale industry sector to create medium-sized enterprises,” he continued. “Especially the energy sector, which will play an important role to produce power for the country and to ensure that electricity is cheap for all Cambodians.”

Currently, the price of electricity in Cambodia is far higher than in neighboring countries.

The CPP members of parliament also unanimously approved the $3.56 billion draft budget for 2014 without debate, as well as approving a law on a government guarantee to pay the private company Alex Corporation, which signed a contract with the government on November 5 to build a 198 km-long power transmission line along National Road 4.

The results of Friday’s votes were a foregone conclusion as only members of Mr. Hun Sen’s CPP are currently in the National Assembly.

The opposition CNRP won 55 seats in parliament during the July national election, but is boycotting the Assembly to protest voting irregularities that favored the ruling party.

The CPP’s Mr. Yeap, who is also chairman of the Assembly’s Commission on Economy, Finance, Banking and Audits, said that the payment guarantee signed on Friday was the 14th such deal with private companies that are constructing coal-fired power plants and hydropower dams in the country.

The Government Payment Guarantee with the Alex Company promises that the company will be paid even if Electricity du Cambodge does not use the electricity lines, or in the case of political “force majeure” (an extraordinary event or act of God).

“The project to transmit electric power between Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk is a key sector of national power transmission…and to link electricity sources that are being developed in the south to Phnom Penh,” Mr. Yeap said.

The construction of the transmission poles will affect about 500 homes located on 107,555 square meters of residential farmland, he added.

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