Government Signs First Public Housing MoU

A Cambodian and Singaporean firm signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Land Management Wednesday for the study and construction of public housing for low- and middle-income households around Phnom Penh, a first for the city if it comes off.

Beng Hong Socheat Khemro, the Land Management Ministry’s housing director, signed the agreement with WorldBridge Land, a joint venture between local WorldBridge Group and Singapore’s Strait Construction Group.

Speaking with reporters after the signing ceremony, Mr. Socheat Khemro said the project would begin with a study of the housing market to determine what sort of housing to design, how many units to build, and at what prices.

“The first step is to create a joint task force…to collect data about the housing market, the trends of the middle- and low-income people who are the target of this investment project,” he said. “Then, based on the data, the companies will be able to prepare a plan that can be implemented.”

The director said there was currently a lack of affordable housing in the city and that this public-private project was the first of its kind to help fill the void.

Rithy Sear, the CEO of WorldBridge Group and WorldBridge Land, said the project was budgeted at about $100 million and should be finished by the end of next year.

Mr. Sear would not offer an estimate of how many units might be built for that much money but said homes costing more than $10,000 were out of reach for the people their project was targeting.

“After the study we will know specifically the locations, costs, number of homes, so on and so forth,” he said.

Mr. Sear said the task force would also study the possibility of offering financing for the homes and checks to prevent speculators from snapping them up, for example a ban on reselling the units.

The CEO said several sites were under consideration. Besides the dozens of hectares his firm already owns around Phnom Penh, Mr. Sear said it was also possible that the government might donate land for the project, in which case some of the homes they build would in turn be donated to the government to sell at reduced prices.

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