Five non-governmental organizations in Cambodia have announced they have formed a coalition to monitor revenues generated by oil, gas, and mining resources in the country. The mission of this new Cambodians for Resource Revenue Transparency (CRRT) organization is to encourage the government to manage the money earned from natural resources in a transparent and responsible way so that all Cambodians can benefit from them.
"The discovery of oil, gas, and minerals and the revenues gained from them could have a potential to lift Cambodians out of poverty," said Mam Sambath, Chairperson of CRRT. "However, for this to happen, important steps need to be taken to ensure that revenue management is done in an accountable way and that the benefits gained are invested into basic social services such as health care and education."
Solinn Lim, a program coordinator for Oxfam America’s East Asia program in Cambodia, spoke at an event held by the CRRT on June 12th in Phnom Penh to launch the new coalition. She said that Cambodia is poised to earn much-needed capital that can be used to drive a new phase of economic growth for the country. "This can only be done with a strong and meaningful engagement between government, companies, and civil society," she said.
Cambodia has recently discovered offshore oil and has mineral deposits in its northern provinces. If effectively exploited, these resources could drastically increase the country's $2 billion national budget. How these additional funds are expended, and the ways the country can safeguard their effective use, is a primary motivating factor for the establishment of the CRRT and its mandate to promote active citizen participation in decisions about use of resource revenues. At the same time, Cambodia’s legal and regulatory framework, both for mining, as well as for oil and gas industries, need to be created. This will help Cambodia to "manage these industries from extraction to revenue collection to spending," said Lim from Oxfam.
Oxfam is making grants to individual members of the CRRT coalition and encouraging other donors to help support the coalition.
The five founding members of the CRRT are Centre for Social Development, Development and partnership in Action, Economic Institute of Cambodia, NGO Forum on Cambodia, and Youth Resource Development Program. The coalition is being funded by Oxfam America, Norwegian People’s Aid, Heinrich Böll Foundation, and Trocaire.