Governor Gives Development Plan to Investors

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuk­tema presented a draft of a 15-year development plan for the city to Vietnamese investors in Ho Chi Minh City on Jan 14, an adviser to the governor said Thursday.

The plan, which has not yet been approved by the government, includes a new railway station for freight trains, a rail track ac­­­ross the Tonle Sap and an ex­pand­ed Phnom Penh Inter­na­tion­al Airport, all to be completed by 2020, said Eric Huybrechts, a French government urban man­age­ment and development specialist, who works with the Muni­ci­pality.

Vietnamese investors “were very interested. There was a lot of dis­­cussion. [It was] very positive,” Huybrechts said.

To make way for new planned roads and canals in the capital, the Municipality is planning to demolish some slums, giving slum residents apartments or land nearby in­­stead, Huybrechts said.

The Municipality is planning to up­grade other slums, he added.

The planned slum demolition would follow negotiations be­tween inhabitants, the Munici­pality and district officials, Huy­brechts said.

“It could be quick if people ac­cept. If people say they don’t want [to move]…it will take a long time,” Huybrechts said.

The proposed upgrades will be paid for by loans and grants from do­nors, by the government and by the private sector, he said.

The government and donors gen­­erally invest $50 million in Phnom Penh’s infrastructure each year, while the private sector in­vests $400 million annually in pro­perty speculation and real estate, he said.

Asked to comment on the re­cent exchange of the Municipal Po­­lice Headquarters for a new building outside the city center, Huy­brechts said the price of city real estate is rising.

One leading Phnom Penh real es­tate agent said on condition of anony­mity Thursday that the current Municipal Police head­quar­ters site is worth approximately $3 million.

A second real estate agent said the site is probably worth be­tween $400 and $450 per square meter, while land at the new site in Rus­sei Keo district is probably worth about $70 per square meter.

Huybrechts said private firms ac­­quiring state-owned land to construct new residences, or shops and offices, may be a good thing.

“The state has a lot of land, and it’s not certain it needs this land,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s advisor Om Yentieng could not be reached for comment Thursday, and Khieu Kanharith, government spokesman, did not answer his phone.

Rights groups on Wednesday called on the police to make public the transaction that led to the ex­change of the Municipal head­quarters.

The recently reported trades of state property indicate that the gov­­­ernment is short “of ideas about how to make money,” Lao Mong Hay of the Center for Social Development said Thursday.

He compared it to the situation to the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the government rushed to sell state property.

“Nobody knows today where the proceeds went,” he said, ad­ding that politicians and tycoons in Cambodia have become mutually de­pendent.


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