A French-Canadian businessman was charged on March 29 with defrauding a sand trader of more than $300,000 by promising to arrange official permission for a dredging operation. Interior Ministry police officer Chea Pesith said Seang Metta, 52, of Boeung Keng Kang II commune in Phnom Penh, claimed he knew many high-ranking officials in the Environment Ministry and other ministries.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, in collaboration with the National Institute of Statistics, on March 29 conducted a workshop for all relevant government agencies on strengthening the economic statistics of Cambodia. The aim of the workshop was to strengthen capacity building on economic statistics to supply solid, reliable data to investors, researchers, policymakers, government and the people. Ministry of Planning secretary of state Rin Virak said that economic statistics played a crucial role in managing the macroeconomy. He said the workshop would provide input on building the National Economic Statistics Development Plan.
In its first two months of regular operation Cambodia’s first civil aviation training centre has provided certificates to dozens of aviation officials and airport staff, helping to raise the skill level of personnel in the Kingdom’s fast-expanding aviation sector. Sinn Chanserey Vutha, spokesman of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said the $10.1 million facility, built with South Korean funding and supervision, held its first training course in early February ahead of its official opening last week. He said the specialised training centre has already provided certificates to 40 aviation officials and airport staff, with another 47 participants due to complete their coursework next week.
Chinese and ASEAN representatives are meeting in Siem Reap to begin hammering out a code of conduct for the highly contested South China Sea. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Chum Sounry said Cambodia was hosting the director-general-level meeting on March 29-30. China has openly dismissed an international tribunal’s determination that the sea’s rocky outcrops cannot be used as the basis for territorial claims, though ASEAN members such as Vietnam and the Philippines, both of which are embroiled in the territorial disputes with China, applauded the decision. While the disputes persist, Beijing has consistently expressed interest in finalising a code of conduct for the region among its neighbours.
Executives at Singapore-listed energy firm KrisEnergy Ltd say they have settled terms with the Cambodian government and are ready to sign a long-awaited production-sharing agreement that would pave the way for the first-ever extraction of petroleum from Cambodian territorial waters. Kelvin Tang, KrisEnergy’s chief operating officer and president of its Cambodia operations, said on March 29 that a contract has been finalised that will govern the extraction of offshore oil and gas from the Block A oil field in the Gulf of Thailand. KrisEnergy holds a 95 percent stake in the 4,709-square-kilometre offshore block, while the Cambodian government holds the remaining 5 percent. According to Tang, KrisEnergy and Cambodia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy have agreed to terms on a production-sharing agreement, “but everything is only set once all parties have signed the relevant agreements”. He added that the company was simply waiting for the government to call and set a date for the signing.
The Public Private Partnership Policy Committee on March 29 resolved to place six more transportation projects worth Bt600 billion on the fast track for implementation. The Industry Ministry will also set up a working panel as soon as possible to promote investment support and tax incentives among leading electric-vehicle makers and key parts makers in the United States, Europe, China and Japan to woo their investment to Thailand. The six new priority projects include Bangkok’s mass-transit Purple Line extension from Tao Poon to Kanchanaphisek Ring Road worth Bt131.17 billion, the east-west mass-transit Orange Line worth Bt195.64 billion, and mass-transit railway from Phuket International Airport to the five-way intersection at Chalong worth Bt39.41 billion.
The National Legislative Assembly is set for a showdown over a contentious bill to reform the energy sector with the establishment of a new national oil company. The bill will be debated in the second and final readings today, while the vote is likely to be a close call as many NLA members are awaiting more clarification on contentious points in the bill. The People’s Network for Thai Energy Reform on March 29 insisted that the proposed national oil company was necessary for managing the country’s oil and gas assets after existing concessions expire. The network said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who on Tuesday publicly rejected the proposal, had misunderstood the network’s key message in protecting national interests in the energy sector, which have long been exploited by private multinational companies.
The Bank of Thailand’s Monetary Policy Committee revised up its forecast for this year’s economic growth to 3.4 per cent based on a further recovery of merchandise exports, while leaving the benchmark interest rate unchanged at 1.50 per cent at its meeting on March 29. Jaturong Jantarangs, secretary to the MPC and BOT assistant governor, said gross domestic product was expected to grow at a faster pace than the previous assessment of 3.2 per cent as a result of a more pronounced recovery in goods exports. The MPC also forecast GDP growth of 3.6 per cent next year. The export-growth forecast is moved up to 2.1 per cent for this year, compared with the previous estimate of 0.6 per cent. This year’s estimated expansion in the value of merchandise exports is revised up to 2.2 per cent from the earlier prediction of flat growth.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday hosted the 14th ASEAN-Russia Senior Officials' Meeting in Vientiane to review the progress made in the countries' cooperation. The meeting was co-chaired by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Thongphane Savanphet, who is also Laos' ASEAN SOM Leader, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and SOM Leader of the Russian Federation, Igor V. Morgulov. Participants reviewed the cooperation between ASEAN and Russia over the past year, especially in following up the outcomes of the ASEAN-Russia Commemorative Summit held to mark the 20th anniversary of ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Relations, which was held in May last year in Sochi, Russia.