The Council of Ministers adopted a new sub-decree on Friday which it described in vague terms as being aimed at “managing” state-owned land across the country, according to a statement from the council.
The council did not release a copy of the sub-decree, but described it as “another new legal tool to manage land data in the country more completely,” adding that it was drafted with funds from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
The sub-decree aims to determine and define elements of state-owned land management such as land registration and mapping, the statement said, though it made no direct reference to land swapping.
Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith declined comment, and Chea Sophara, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, could not be contacted.
Critics charged that the sub-decree may have been passed too late to prevent the rash of secretive swaps of state land with private firms that has occurred over the past year.
Latt Ky, land rights program officer at local rights group Adhoc, said he was pleased that such a sub-decree had been passed, but added: “It seems to be a bit too late for the sub-decree to be adopted.”
“This should have been adopted early on, before [the land swaps] were over…. As I have noticed, land swaps and land trading has sped up recently, before the sub-decree was adopted.” he added.
A plethora of state properties around the capital and in Siem Reap town have been traded with private companies in 2005.