Firm Awaits Gov’t OK To Build on Colonial Site

The owner of the construction company slated to build a 100-room hotel on the site of the de­mol­ished French colonial-era municipal tourism building on Sisowath Quay said Thursday that his firm is awaiting government approval for the project.

“We will start our work soon, whenever we get approval from the government,” said New Hope Company owner Lay Bunpa.

“I am preparing documents and submitting forms in order to ask for a license from the government to construct the hotel,” he said.

Lay Bunpa confirmed that his com­pany has paid the municipal tourism department for the land but  declined to specify the amount.

In early April, Lim Sinith, chief of the tourism department’s tour­ism industry bureau, acknowledged that the department had swapped its 1930s riverfront of­fices with the New Hope Com­pany in exchange for $100,000 cash and a newly renovated villa on Street 73 in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune.

Lim Sinith later said the payout might actually end up being as low as $40,000. Reached this week, Lim Sinith would say only that his 30-member staff had received payment from New Hope but would not say how much.

Lim Sinith referred questions about the payout to the Ministry of Finance. Finance Minister Keat Chhon and Finance Secretary of State Kong Vibol could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Mam Bun Neang, Phnom Penh’s first vice governor, and Chin Sa­man, former director of the municipal tourism department, declined to comment Thurs­day.

(Additional reporting by Karen Hawkins)

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