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State says inactive SEZs are acceptable

WORK has not begun on some of the Kingdom’s licensed special economic zones, but the government has no plans to remove the concessions, according to a Council for the Development of Cambodia official.

Chea Vuthy, deputy secretary general of SEZs at the council, said the property belonged to firms, and was not state land.

“We will not take licences away from special economic zone investment companies, even though they have failed to develop their zones,” he said yesterday at a business and investment opportunity forum held at Phnom Penh’s Cambodiana Hotel.

In the eight years prior to 2010, the CDC has approved some 21 SEZs across the Kingdom, with declared investment capital totalling over US$1 billion. Around 14 remain undeveloped, based on CDC statistics.

Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodia Economic Association, said promoting increased SEZ development projects will help to create businesses and further employment.

“I think the government should encourage investments in infrastructure and other services in special economic zones to benefit the economy,” he said yesterday. “It should not leave these zones empty by increasing the land prices in those areas.”

Cambodian law firm BNG Legal said earlier this year the SEZs are designed to ease challenges to setting up business.

It said SEZs have government officials stationed on site to provide administration services, such as clearances and permits. Businesses also benefit from fiscal advantages such as income tax, customs, and VAT breaks.

Four special economic zones have been officially opened – Manhattan SEZ near Phnom Penh, Tai Seng Bavet SEZ in Svay Rieng Province, Phnom Penh SEZ, and Sihanoukville SEZ 2.

Two other projects, Sihanoukville Port SEZ 1 and Neang Kok Koh Kong SEZ, are both said to be under construction.

Yesterday, officials said construction is slated to start on the Hong Kong-funded $34 million SEZ in Saang District of Kandal province at the end of the year.

Chea Vuthy said work will begin on the site this month.

“We are encouraging cooperation in developing other Special Economic Zones in an attempt to attract more foreign investment,” he said.

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