Land Deals Comprise Thousands of Hectares

Thirty-two economic land concessions covering 707,607 hect­ares are currently active or are in the process of being activated, ac­cording to a Ministry of Agri­cul­ture report obtained Thursday.

In addition, the government is in the process of cancelling or has cancelled 17 concessions totaling 181,860 hectares, the report states.

The land deals have been oc­curring since 1992, according to the report.

There was no indication when the report was compiled, but it in­dicates that the majority of re­quests to cancel concessions had been made on Aug 18.

In addition, the report does not in­­dicate whether every economic land concession that has ever been awarded was included in the re­port.

World Bank Country Manager Nisha Agrawal said the government’s decision to release the concession list was a sign of “major progress.”

“We think that things are moving in the right direction,” she told reporters at the World Bank office for the release of an unrelated re­port.

Agrawal said that many concessions were awarded before the proper laws were in place and as a result, they were not given out in a transparent manner.

“Having land concessions is not a problem, per se,” Agrawal said.

“The problem is, we think, that not everybody is using that land and the system is not benefiting Cambodia,” she said.

Chan Tong Yves, Agriculture Ministry secretary of state, re­fused to comment until donors and government representatives have had a chance to discuss the re­port.

Agriculture Minister Chan Sar­un said he was too busy to comment.

Several foreign diplomats, speak­ing on condition of anony­mity, said the government’s decision to re­lease the information was a good first step but that they would continue to press the government to release more information.

The report states the names of the concessionaires, the province where the concession is located, its size, the contract’s length, and the concession’s purpose and current status.

Henry Hwang, an attorney ad­viser at the Public Interest Legal Ad­vocacy Project, said the information was not particularly useful.

“There’s no info on where ex­actly these concessions are located and there are concessions that are not on [the report],” he said.

 

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