Gov’t Set to Resume Control Of Redone Siem Reap Airport

After years of fits and starts, disputes and recriminations, the Asian Development Bank is pre­paring to hand a newly renovated Siem Reap Airport back to the government and its concessionaire, officials confirmed Wednesday.

The bank had been in control of the airport after putting up a

$15 million loan for its renovation, but will hand it back to the government Nov 25, Societe Concession­aire de l’Aerport spokesman Khek Norinda said.

Bank Country Representative Urooj Malik said a firm date wasn’t set yet, but did agree with the overall details offered by Khek Norinda.

“I do know the project is nearly completed now,” Malik said, saying the airport would revert to government control by early December. “I don’t know the date. I can tell you that in early December we will complete the project.”

In July 2000, the bank held back part of the loan, blasting the government for a deal it signed with SCA that, among other things, gave the management company almost all of the profits from running the airport while leaving the government to pay back the bank.

At the time, one bank official referred to the government’s deal as “careless.”

Although Malik refused to offer details, he said the issue had been settled.

“The government will reimburse the loan. That’s how the loan works,” he said.

The government, in turn, will hand over the airport to SCA to manage, Khek Norinda said. SCA has agreed to pay back the government loan, which resolved the long impasse among the three groups, he added.

Renovations will continue after the peak tourist season, however, as the government expects hundreds of thousands of tourists to flock to Siem Reap and the famed temples at Angkor Wat for the next few months, Khek Norinda said.

The airport was in need of renovations to accommodate the crunch authorities have been expecting in the wake of Cam­bodia’s newfound peace and its “open skies” policy, which makes Siem Reap an international destination.


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