Most of Siem Reap’s provincial government offices will move from their prime downtown locations to a new compound earmarked for the town’s outskirts, according to a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The April 5 sub-decree orders the transfer of 110,555 square meters—around 11 hectares—of land and buildings in Siem Reap town to a soon-to-be-built 40-hectare administration compound.
The sub-decree, a copy of which was acquired Thursday, names nearly every provincial department, including the governor’s office, in its list of institutions that will move to the planned compound, about 4 or 5 km from Siem Reap town.
The sub-decree also converts all of the affected departmental land from state public property—which cannot be sold or given to private concerns—to state private property, which can be traded or sold.
Siem Reap Provincial Governor Sou Phirin said the contract for building the new compound has been given to a private firm, G & R Construction Co, Ltd.
In return, G & R Construction will take possession of all the vacated state properties in booming Siem Reap town.
Siem Reap Provincial Cabinet Chief Bun Tharith said the national government made the transfer deal directly with G & R Construction.
The deal was a straight land swap, Bun Tharith said, adding that the company did not pay anything beyond the cost of building the new provincial authority compound.
Bun Tharith said he was not sure if there was a competitive bidding process for the state-owned land, which is valued at tens of millions of dollars, and the construction contract.
Neither Sou Phirin nor Bun Tharith could give contact information for G & R Construction and no contact details for the company could be found.
Sou Phirin said the move was necessary to facilitate the expansion of Siem Reap town, which he said is becoming too crowded.
If we don’t take the administration outside [the town], the people will not move to the [city] outskirts,” he said.
Land in central Siem Reap town is currently valued at between $400 and $800 per square meter—meaning the current provincial buildings are now sitting on at least $44 million-worth of real estate, said Sung Bonna, CEO of the Bonna Realty Group in Phnom Penh.
Land in Prasat Bakong district, where G & R Construction will build the departmental compound, is currently valued at between $20 and $100 per square meter, he said.
SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said the sub-decree should be immediately nullified.
“The government loses a lot of money from this sub-decree because there is no bidding process,” he claimed, adding that the province’s police headquarters and court had already been traded and moved out of town.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said that he was not sure what the bidding situation was for the Siem Reap land swap, but added that bidding would be mandatory for a project of this scale.
(Additional reporting by Kay Kimsong)