The National Assembly on Monday overwhelmingly passed legislation to create a national electric authority that will eventually replace the Electricite du Cambodge, which has come under fire for alleged corruption and mismanagement.
“Because of the lack of a specific law, there were a series of problems in [the electric] sector and also corruption by some people,” opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said.
Penalties such as fines have been included in the law to discourage low-level corruption, though lawmakers said more serious cases will be handled through the courts. “[The law] gives us a hard legal tool to handle existing electric problems,” Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy Secretary of State Ith Prang said.
He said the law, which only passed after months of sporadic debate, will also help promote investment in utilities and satisfy some loan conditions from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. Both institutions are negotiating electric projects with the government that they hope will bring more reliable power to Cambodia’s provinces.
A team of World Bank negotiators are scheduled to meet with Cambodian officials this month to discuss a $70 million electric transmission line to be built from Phnom Penh through Takeo province.