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Government silent on ELCs

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Logs are stockpiled in March by the CRCK rubber company, which was granted an economic land concession, in Kampong Thom province’s Sandan district in Prey Lang forest. Photograph: May Titthara/Phnom Penh Post

Ministry officials were silent yesterday on how exactly they planned to implement Prime Minister Hun Sen’s suspension of any new economic land concession grants and review of existing ELCs.

Both the Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun and Minister of Environment Mok Mareth could not be reached for comment yesterday and other ministry officials contacted, including Chay Sakun, director in charge of land concessions at the Ministry of Agriculture, declined to comment.

Provincial authorities in­volved in granting the now-suspended land concessions yesterday said they were ready to implement orders, but had received none.

Ratanakkiri provincial governor Pao Hamphan said he would enforce the regulation “immediately”.

“But now, we are still waiting for the decision of the relevant ministries such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Environment to [tell us how] to enforce this regulation firmly,” Pan Hamphan said, adding that 18 companies held about 80,000 hectares of ELC land in Ratanakkiri.

Kampong Thom’s provincial governor Chhun Chhorn said he was willing and able to cooperate with any instructions he received from the relevant ministries to enforce the premier’s regulation.

“When that regulation is set, we will enforce at that time,” Chhun Chorn said, adding there were 26 companies developing 50,000 hectares of land in Kampong Thom.

However, civil society organisations and opposition parties are concerned the regulation is nothing more than an election ploy.

Rights group Adhoc yesterday highlighted the regulation’s “convenient” timing, which could prove a “waiting period”, noting it would not overrule a law or sub-decree and is easily reversible.

To contac the reporters on this story: Meas Sokchea at sokchea.meas@phnompenhpost.com
Bridget Di Certo at bridget.dicerto@phnompenhpost.com

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