Phnom Penh authorities said Sunday they were renewing efforts to collect tax on unused blocks of land in the capital.
Meanchey district governor Khouch Chamroeun said Sunday that Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema told a meeting of district governors on Thursday that more than 3,000 unused plots of land have been registered by the city as part of efforts to step up real estate tax collection.
Dangkao district is the only district not to have submitted its list of plots of unused land registrations, Mr Chamroeun said.
“Some people bought the land and they don’t use the land, which has contributed to a slowdown in development,” Mr Chamroeun said, adding that 877 plots of unused land had been registered in his district.
Municipal tax department Director Om Chon said Sunday that his department had previously faced difficulties collecting taxes from the owners of unused blocks of land.
“We haven’t collected 100 percent of the taxes,” Mr Chon said, adding that some owners are “land speculators” who live overseas.
“They are living abroad…. They bought land and let it be,” he said.
Mr Chon said that City Hall had the ability to enforce the payment of taxes on unused plots of land, but he declined to say what measures would be taken.
“There will be no exception and we will not leave unused land without [being] taxed, not even a meter,” he said.
Mr Chuktema declined to comment when contacted Sunday.
Cheam Yeap, CPP lawmaker and chairman of the National Assembly’s banking and finance committee, said Sunday that he has pushed Finance Minister Keat Chhon to take tough measures when imposing taxes on unused land.
Mr Yeap said the measures should target land speculators and that government officials who owned land would not be excluded from the taxation process.
“We have told His Excellency Keat Chhon to find all means in collecting taxes,” Mr Yeap said.
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that the government had a history of imposing taxes on the poor, but not the wealthy.
“The government has implemented the policy only on the poor,” Mr Sovann said, adding that he believed the majority of unused land was owned by members of the CPP.