Gov’t Slowly Releases Oil, Mining Revenue Data

In its latest move to bolster the transparency of payments made by petroleum and mineral companies, the government released figures this week showing it received 3 billion riel, or about $750,000, from the extractive industries in the months of August and September.

According to a document known by the French acronym TOFE and published on the website of the Ministry of Finance on Monday, the government received payments of a billion riel in August and 2 billion riel in September.

The release of the online information is in line with the government’s Public Financial Management Reform Program, which is partly designed to increase financial accountability through disclosure.

Though the amount of money that companies in the extractive industries pay to the government is now being published, information on the company and type of payment is not being disclosed.

Nevertheless, the government has said on numerous occasions this year it would adhere to the principles adopted by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a coalition of governments, companies and civil society groups that promote revenue transparency.

The data also show payments amounting to 6.28 billion riel, or about $1.57 million, in May, and 112.21 billion riel, or about $28 million, in March. The government in April announced it had received $28 million dollars from French oil giant Total after it successfully acquired an exploration license for an offshore area in the Gulf of Thailand.

News of the Total payments followed news media reports in April that mining firm BHP Billiton was the target of a US bribery investigation over payments to the Cambodian government in 2006, something that Prime Minister Hun Sen has since denied.

Mam Sambath, chairman for Cambodians for Revenue Resource Transparency, wrote in an e-mail yesterday that government data still gave no way of deciphering the type of payment made to the government–royalties, fees, rent or commissions–or which company had made the payment.

“[W]e have no source of the revenue and type of payments,” he wrote.

“We […] strongly encourage government to regularly publish revenue collection with disaggregate information,” he added, referring to a breakdown of information on companies and payment types.

Brian Lund, regional director of Oxfam America’s East Asia Regional Office, wrote in an e-mail that the government was currently enhancing its laws on taxation and developing a new law on petroleum exploitation and management.

“This is moving on the right track as it needs adequate regulatory frameworks to ensure that revenues collected can be tracked to allow citizens to understand how the government mobilizes financial resources and how those resources are utilized,” he wrote. “This helps increase public confidence in the government.”


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