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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - 'Slow' development of island resorts to be completed by 2015: official

'Slow' development of island resorts to be completed by 2015: official

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Royal Group CEO Kith Meng at the Hotel Cambodiana in Phnom Penh in August last year. Royal Group – one of the many companies to build on Cambodia’s islands – is developing a resort on Koh Rong. BLOOMBERG

COMPANIES granted development licences for Cambodia's many islands will complete their resorts by 2015, an official said Tuesday.

Cham Prasidh, commerce minister and vice chairman of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), told the Post that once plans to minimise environmental impact are completed, the process will speed up.

"The development process is moving forward gradually. Some are slow to begin because we are discussing master plans to prevent any impact on the environment," he said.

He explained that each island development takes about two to three years to finish, but if each master plan does not comply with environmental standards, the government will not allow construction.

"We want to make Cambodia's coastal areas the most famous areas of the country and the most attractive coastline in Asia," he said, adding that illegal land possession could also slow things down.

We are discussing master plans to prevent any impact on the environment.

"Island development will be fast if we can avoid problems over illegal land possession.... As there are people who possess land [on the islands], we will have to address this problem first," he said.

Yun Heng, director of the evaluation and incentives department of the Cambodia Investment Board (CIB), said on Wednesday that the government has granted 20 licences to companies to develop islands in Preah Sihanouk, Koh Kong and Kampot provinces, but so far only the master plans for three projects have been successfully completed.

He said that CDC has rejected the master plan for Koh Ses island off the coast of Kampot due to environmental concerns, asking them to redesign their plans.  

"Some islands granted licences must maintain their original environment, and some are allowed to make changes," he said.

He added that island development would cost around US$2 billion for initial investment, most of which was coming from foreign companies.

"It is better to work slowly, but accurately and highly efficiently," said Yun Heng.

Koh Kong Governor Yuth Phouthang said that although he had not yet received any information about the development projects, he was confident they would have a positive impact on the local economy.

"We want to develop these islands because it will bring more tourists and income to the province as well as our people," he said.

Meas Morin, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Environment in charge of island environmental impact evaluation, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

According to Yun Heng, CIB has inspected the investment capital of each development group. Developers of Cambodia's islands include Royal Group, which is building on Koh Rong, and Brocon Group of Australia, which plans to open resorts on Koh Oun and Koh Bong.

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