Opposition Lawmakers Bash Petroleum and Gas Authority

Opposition lawmakers Tues­day attacked the National Petro­leum and Gas Authority, saying it is a waste of scarce resources and a drain on the economy.

“What is the use of having the petroleum authority, while the ec­on­omy remains poor?” asked Sam Sundoeun of the Sam Rainsy Par­ty. “I would like to see it canceled.”

His comments came during a National Assembly debate on the draft mining management law.

Opposition lawmakers said pet­ro­leum and gas are the only re­sources left to be exploited, be­cause the Council of Ministers has stalled the law so long that all oth­er resources are gone. Sam Sun­doeun said the government will not move quickly on the draft law until corrupt officials have made as much as they can off petroleum and gas as well. He suggested that jurisdiction over mining and natural resour­ces be returned to the Ministry of Indus­try, Mines and Energy. But Minis­ter of Industry Suy Sem said that is impossible, as the authority was cre­ated by the government and roy­al decree.

Officials also argued over how many other mineral deposits may be left to exploit. Suy Sem said minerals in areas like Pailin and Samlot are already gone, due to poor control and a lack of laws.

Others said the government doesn’t know what might be left elsewhere, because it lacks the funds to conduct seismic surveys.

Officials said they let one company study gold mines in the Me­m­ot district of Kompong Cham province and a second to study coal deposits in Preah Vi­hear province, but both re­­vealed de­­posits too small to mine profitably.




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