China To Help Finance New Gov’t Building

China agreed last week to help construct a new, eight-story Coun­cil of Minister’s complex by financing its estimated $49 million cost, of­ficials said Sunday.

It was not yet clear Sunday whe­ther the $49 million would come in the form of a loan, a grant or a com­bination of both. Chi­nese Am­bas­sador Hu Qinwen said he did not know whether the cost of construction would have to be repaid to China.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and Hu signed the deal late Thurs­day to erect the new building at its current location on Russian Con­federation Boule­vard, said Touch Seang Tana, undersecretary of state for the Council of Ministers.

“The work of the Council of Min­­isters [in the past] was small. But right now we have a lot of work to do, so we must enlarge the Council of Minister’s building,” Touch Seang Tana said.

Construction will take two and a half years to complete and should be finished by 2008, Touch Seang Tana said. But he said that the gov­­ern­ment must first secure ad­di­tion­al land near the site, currently oc­cupied by several houses.

“Whenever the government is ready [with] the land, the Chi­nese company will start construction,” he said. He did not disclose the name of the company. The gov­ern­ment will borrow office space from other ministries for Council of Ministers staff until construction is completed, he said.

Sam Rainsy lawmaker Yim So­vann said he welcomed the as­sis­tance from China but pointed to more pressing needs.

“We need a new [Council of Min­­ister’s building], of course,”  Yim Sovann said. “But I think in the present situation, an ir­ri­gation sys­tem is the most im­portant thing.”

Senate Cabinet Chief Um Sarith said that a Chinese delegation, which surveyed several dilapidated Chi­nese-built Senate buildings in No­v­ember, will return sometime be­tween January and March to renovate them.

The walls and floor tiles of four Se­nate buildings constructed by the Chinese government in 2001 were cracked and crumbling, staff reported last year.


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