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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cambodia's gambling industry contributes 17 mln USD in tax revenues in 2006

The Cambodian Ministry of Finance and Economy in 2006 collected about 17 million U.S. dollars in tax revenues from the gambling industry, including casino, lottery and electronic gaming, the Cambodia Daily reported in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.

Casino tax revenues alone amounted to 13 million U.S. dollars, which exceeded the target casino revenues of 12.5 million U.S. dollars laid out in the 2006 national budget, Bankosal Ming, deputy director of the ministry's finance industry department, was quoted as saying.

According to another senior ministry official, Phnom Penh's NagaCorp Casino paid the lion's share of the revenues, or 2.4 million U.S. dollars, to the state coffers in 2006, while smaller casinos paid at varying levels based on their sizes.

In contrast to casinos, which are geared almost exclusively toward foreigners, the lottery, betting and electronic gaming cater to ordinary Cambodians, Bankosal Ming said.

The gambling industry is expected to contribute 19 million U.S. dollars in tax revenues in 2007, he added.

Source: Xinhua Read more!

By Ker Munthit
ASSOCIATED PRESS
5:19 a.m. January 16, 2007

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Scores of Asian and European companies have expressed an interest in tapping Cambodia's oil wealth, though it will be years before the country realizes the benefits from its offshore reserves, a government official said Tuesday.

Te Duong Tara, the director-general of Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, told The Associated Press Tuesday that the country was still assessing the situation and was a “long way” from reaching a production phase.

Impoverished Cambodia was set abuzz in 2005 following the discovery of oil off the southwestern coast by U.S. energy giant Chevron Corp.

Since then, Te Duong Tara said oil firms from Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, France, Indonesia and China, have been lining up for licenses to explore other potential blocks in the Cambodian waters.

The Chinese state-owned oil company CNOOC Ltd. is presently negotiating terms of agreement with the Cambodian government, which could be signed in the near future, he said without elaborating.

“We are bringing in highly experienced operators,” Te Duong Tara said on the sidelines of a petroleum seminar.

Chevron, meanwhile, is conducting exploration drillings in Block A where it first discovered oil, a site located about 87 miles southwest of the seaport of Sihanoukville, which is about 115 miles southwest of the capital, Phnom Penh.

The company discovered crude oil in 2005 in four wells in the block and has plans to drill 10 more through 2007.

Te Duong Tara said that oil revenues could have a “profound” impact on the future of Cambodia, where 35 percent of the country's 14 million people live below national poverty line of 50 cents a day. Read more!

54 U.S. soldiers still missing in Cambodia: Official

Charles A. Ray, former U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, said on Tuesday that there are 54 U.S. soldiers still missing in action (MIAs) in Cambodia.

"The parents of those soldiers are still asking us about their sons and if they died. Their parents need the evidence," Charles told some 100 media management students at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

Ray, also a veteran in the Vietnam War, said that in the ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, his team will conduct investigation of archives and villages to seek out details that might lead them to aircraft crash sites or to potential burial location.

"But we are faced with rigid border-crossing rules and regulations. Our investigations have often been halted for months or longer, while negotiations must take place. Such delays are devastating to the progress of a case, and especially to the families who are waiting and hoping that answers on their missing loved ones will be forthcoming," said Ray, who arrived here on Monday in capacity of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs.

"Cambodia has set up an example for the other nations in this region and the citizens of the U.S. recognized that," added Ray, who was ambassador to Cambodia from 2002 to 2005 and got his current post in September 2006.

Meanwhile, he noted, Prime Minister Hun Sen said in Siem Reap in 2004 that the mission of recovering the remains of U.S. soldiers offered new venues of cooperation between Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

"The relation between Cambodia and the U.S. is up and down and sometimes is rocky," he said, adding that presently both sides cooperate nearly in all sectors and "it is a positive sign." Ray, reportedly on a special mission to find out the whereabouts of the missing U.S. soldiers in Cambodia, is expected to meet King Sihamoni and Hun Sen on Wednesday.

Source: Xinhua Read more!