Firm Decries Red Tape Delay

The British firm contracted to supply power in Battambang said Thursday its project is being held up by delays in transferring control of the province’s power de­partment from the Industry Ministry to Electricite du Cam­bodge. 

“We have the agreement signed but we and EdC can’t make a move until Battambang is transferred [to EdC in Phnom Penh],” said Thierry de Roland Peel, joint managing director of Anglo Cambodian Holdings Ltd.

The government, as part of an energy reform plan, wants to transfer supervision of all provincial power departments from the government to EdC for greater efficiency. In some cases, the Ministry of Industry also is bringing in private companies to invest in and upgrade the projects.

Industry Minister Pou Sothirak on Thursday said he did not know when Battambang’s power department would be transferred from the ministry to EdC. He said Siem Reap and Sihanoukville departments completed the pro­cess in the past six months and Battambang would be next.

Pou Sothirak insisted that the fault lies with Anglo Cambodian. Documents, such as a work plan, must still be submitted and signed, he said, and he claimed the company doesn’t have the money to implement it.

Anglo Cambodian signed a power purchase agreement with EdC in March 1997. Two other companies involved in the project pulled out following the factional fighting that broke in July.

Since then, said de Roland Peel, the government has “sty­mied” his firm in a number of ways, including pushing the company to find another joint-venture partner and threatening to cancel the contract if it did not begin work within a month.

But de Roland Peel emphasized that nowhere in the contract does it specify Anglo Cambodian needs a partner. He also said the company is prepared—and has the money—to go it alone, al­though the July fighting pushed the project back at least one year. The contract cannot be canceled, he added, because a clause covering unforeseen events came into effect following the July events.

 

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