Gov’t Nears Decision on New Forest Monitor

The government is closing in on its decision to select a new forest monitoring group. 

Ty Sokhun, director of the Ministry of Agriculture’s De­partment of Forestry and Wildlife, said Thursday that although the decision has not been made official, Societe Generale de Sur­veillance will replace Global Wit­ness as the government’s independent monitor of logging and forestry concession management.

However, an SGS representative said he was unaware his firm would be awarded the contract. “I just submitted the application, but so far I [did] not hear anything,” Thach Suon said.

The government contracted SGS in 1995 to inspect goods entering Cambodian ports and to ensure the proper duties and taxes were being collected. Thach Suon did not say how SGS was qualified to move into the forestry sector.

“SGS has won the technical evaluation of the recruitment [for a new monitor]. We want the watch­dog to monitor and emphasize the truth. We need true re­ports, not the exaggerated ones,” Ty Sok­hun said. “We are committed to pushing reform forward.”

The government severed its ties with Global Witness, which has served as the independent forestry monitor since 1999, on April 22 af­ter years of charging the monitor with exaggerating the extent of illegal logging in Cambo­dia.

Bill Magrath, the World Bank representative on logging, said Thursday that he had not yet received word of the government’s monitor selection and could not comment. No one from Global Witness could be reached for comment Thursday.

Millions of dollars in international aid have been tied to forestry reform and the presence of an independent monitor to oversee that reform.

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