Profit from ELCs ‘doesn’t rectify ecological impact’
Energy cost for Bitcoins sky-high
THE government has collected over $ 6 million in revenue so far from more than one million hectares of economic land concessions (ELC), says a report from t he Ministr y of Agriculture published t his week.
However, the amount collected has been criticised by NGOs which say ELCs do not prov ide economic benefits.
The ministr y’s figures show that the government has va lidated a tota l of 1,178,646ha as ELC to 229 companies across t he countr y, collecting $ 6.64 million in renta l fees.
Affiliated Network for Socia l Accountabilit y head San Chey said the revenue [earned from the companies] is worthless compared to t he ecologica l impact [they have caused]. He insisted t he ministr y increase the va lue of the ELCs according to t he market prices.
He said when ca lculated, t he amount is only $ 5 per hectare on average which is less beneficial for t he economy while emigration continues to rise.
“What t he government is doing with these land concessions in terms of Agriculture development is not enough to justif y t he losses from them. Neither are they beneficial for the Cambodian people as those companies only hire workers f rom t heir own countries.
“Some companies only come to clear the forest and make a profit. Then they stop operations,” Chey said.
However, ministr y spokesman Srey Vuthy said the profit does not only come from renta l fees, and that the government benefits more from the companies’ business operations.
“There is a lot of ta x money going to t he state. It is not based on t he land concession only,” he said.
He said the 229 companies t hat received ELCs from the government are t he most active ones in business.
Those companies, he said, had cultivated 438,250ha and cleared 515,701ha. They provided 64,119 jobs.
Vuthy said the ministr y had a lso cancelled t he licenses of 248 companies which were inactive after receiv ing ELCs.
“We follow the ELC companies closely. We can compromise if any one of them has financial problems. But if a company is inactive, we’d withdraw approval. We need t he internationa l investors to work a long wit h our loca l investors too,” he stressed.
Chey said the government should increase its profits from ELCs, as t he land of fered a high potentia l for t he agriculture sector.
“The government should increase the fee based on the env ironmental impact, sur vey ing the current market, and opening it to public auctions to look for potentia l investors.
“This will make t he sector well developed and profitable for t he people. We should encourage loca l agricultura l investors,” he said. EXTRACTING a dollar’s worth of cryptocurrency such as bitcoin from the deep Web consumes three times more energy than digging up a dollar’s worth of gold, researchers said on Monday.
There are now hundreds of virtual currencies and an unknown number of server farms around the world running around the clock to unearth them, more than half of them in China, according to a recent report from the University of Cambridge.
Mining virtual currencies with a real-world value, in other words, carries a hidden environmental cost that is rarely measured or taken i nto account.
“We now have an entirely new industry that is consuming more energy per year than many countries,” said Max Krause, a researcher at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education and lead author of a study in the journal Nature Sustainability.
“This year, bitcoin is on track to consume more energy than Denmark,” he said.
Denmark consumed 31.4 billion kilowatt hours in electricity in 2015. As of July 1 of this year, Bitcoin mining used up approximately 30.1 billion kilowatt hours, according to the study.
The highly competitive practice of mining cryptocurrencies requires hundreds, even tens of thousands, of linked computers running intensive calculations in search of the Internet equivalent of precious metals.
New coins are awarded to those who complete calculations first, with the transaction confirmed and entered into the currency’s shared public ledger, known as the “blockchain”.
The top 100 cryptocurrencies have a current market value of about $200 billion (175 billion euros), according to the website coinmarketcap.com.
Bitcoin accounts for more than half of that amount.
“We wanted to spread awareness about the potential environmental costs for mining cr yptocurrencies,” Krause said.
“Just because you are creating a digital product, that doesn’t mean it does not consume a large amount of energy to make it.”
A woman collects cassava at an ELC in Kratie’s Snuol district .