The National Assembly began debate Thursday on the draft law on concessions, which allows the government to grant state infrastructure properties to private companies for a period of 30 years through a public bidding process.
Following lengthy discussion about a Pakistani investment law, lawmakers heard a summary of the first chapter of the concession draft before the proceedings ran out of time. They were scheduled to resume discussions today.
The draft law states that the following state fixtures are eligible for private concessions: museums and resorts, education and sports buildings, health centers, water and electric plants, oil and gas systems, special economic zones, and transportation infrastructure such as roads, bridges, airways and railways.
CPP lawmaker Try Chheang Huot, deputy chairman of the Assembly commission on investment, said the law, which stipulates that private investors must adhere to a national and international bidding process, will help bolster the transparency of investments in Cambodia.
The law states that private companies must submit proposals to lease, transfer or construct projects to the Council for the Development of Cambodia.
Companies must also commit to training Cambodians to take over the concession once the 30-year period has ended. In some cases, concessions can be extended if the companies fail to break even on their investments within the 30-year time frame.
Ministry of Finance First Secretary of State Kong Vibol told the Assembly that the concession law would increase the level of trust among potential investors.
“The law is important for the government and for investors. When we have the law we will promote investors’ trust,” he said, emphasizing that the legislation covers only state infrastructure, not land.
SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said by telephone that the government has already granted state property to private companies.
“The law just legalizes what the government has already done illegally,” he said, adding that the law should cover land concessions as well.
“The law is a nonsense law,” he said.
“The [draft law] does not say about the land and forest concessions, but the law would enable the use of the land,” he added.