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IMF Reiterates Oil Warnings

Economists of the International Monetary Fund echoed warnings on Tuesday that an offshore oil discovery will mean more money, but not necessarily more jobs, for Cambodia.

Jeremy Carter, IMF's Asia Pacific adviser, who concluded a two-week visit with a Washington delegation Tuesday, said Cambodia's overall economic outlook was good, but recent oil developments that could see production as early as 2009 would not mean jobs in the sector in proportion to the growth of the working population.

Carter's warnings echoed concerns from other experts recently that Cambodia's oil boon might bode ill for the country. Examples in other oil-rich, developing nations have shown that much of the wealth goes to a the private or political elite, widening an economic gap and distancing a government from its constituents.

Carter urged the Cambodian government to create mechanisms to capture taxes from oil companies in order to fill the nation's coffers.

Finance Ministry Secretary Chea Peng Chheang said the ministry was preparing a bill for the control of oil revenue and tax collection.

"The IMF made a comment that no labor will be used in this field, and this is OK," he said. "I feel our government will create other jobs while we have this revenue."

Cambodia is expecting to yield about 1 million barrels of oil per year from offshore wells, with tax revenue from oil reaching about $300 million annually, he said.