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Senators approve 2019-2023 development plan, power projects

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
Keo Ratanak, general director of EDC, answers questions in the Senate yesterday. Senate

Senators yesterday unanimously agreed to pass the National Strategic Development Plan of 2019-2023 worth $57.7 billion in capital.

In order for the budget plan to be finalised, it will need to be reviewed by the Constitutional Council and approved by the King.

The vote was held during yesterday’s plenary session when senators also unanimously approved plans by SPHP (Cambodia) to invest in a new hydroelectric dam in Pursat province, as well as plans by Schnei Tech to build solar farms in the provinces of Pursat and Kampong Chhnang.

Prior to the vote, 48 out of 62 senators debated for hours during the session, which was led by Senate president Say Chhum.

The draft for National Strategic Development Plan of 2019-2023 was approved by the Council of Ministers during a meeting presided by Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 7 and the National Assembly unanimously approved it earlier this month.

Senate secretary-general Oum Sarith said in a statement that NSDP 2019-2023 aims to promote inclusive growth and work toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of 2016-2030.

Mr Sarith said it would also help transition Cambodia from a lower-middle income country to an upper-middle income country in 2030.

“This strategic development plan plays an important role in implementing the government’s priority policy, which is stated in the Rectangular Strategy-Phase IV and the Sustainable Development Goals of 2016-2030,” he said.

In order to have funding for NSDP 2019-2023, the private sector will need to contribute $43.4 billion, or 75 percent of the budget, while $14.3 billion will come from the government.

Regarding the power projects, the dam in Prusat will be able to produce 80MW of electricity and will be built on a build-operate-transfer scheme.

The dam will need a capital of more than $231 million and that SPHP (Cambodia) has been granted a 39-year concession for the project.

According to Mines and Energy Minister Suy Sem, the Pursat hydro dam project will affect the homes of 347 families and farmland belonging to 296 families in 5,355 hectares of land. He added that 600,724 hectares of forest land will also be affected.

However, he said the dam will be able to produce up to 70 percent of its total capacity during the dry season.

“It’s different from other projects because other projects can only produce 30 percent during the dry season, or even less, such as this year, for example,” Mr Sarith said.

During the session yesterday, Senator Mam Bun Neang asked about the recent power shortage and raised concerns that people were misunderstanding their electricity bills.

Keo Ratanak, general director of Electricité Du Cambodge, said next year, the government will change the language used on electricity bills from English to Khmer to avoid misunderstandings.

“The new bill will include the records of previous months, then they [customers] can compare their usage,” Mr Ratanak said. “We are going to do this to have them understand and cut down their usage.”

He noted that any EDC official involved in corruption and double standards when it comes to dealing with wealthy and poor customers, will be sacked.

“If EDC officials commit something wrong, we will punish them, like by firing them from their position or give them administrative discipline, based on our internal regulations,” Mr Ratanak added. “Corrupt violators will face the law. If any lawmakers found irregularities, they can file a complaint to us.”

He noted that as of this year, rural areas in the Kingdom now have 83 percent of the national electricity supply.

He said that Cambodia has become one of the fastest electricity suppliers in least developed countries.

According to the Mines and Energy Ministry, Cambodia produced 2,650 MW last year, of which 1,329 megawatts, or 50 percent, came from hydroelectric dams.

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