Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Land concessions: $1/hectare

Land concessions: $1/hectare

Land concessions: $1/hectare

TWO companies linked to Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat are among five that were granted economic land concessions requiring them to pay only US$1 per hectare in annual rent in exchange for development rights, according to newly discovered agreements with the government.

The contracts with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries state that the five concessionaires must begin paying the “rental fees” five years after the concessions were awarded.

One of the firms linked to Ly Yong Phat, the Koh Kong Sugar Industry Company, is at the centre of a land dispute that erupted in violence in 2006 when security guards fired guns to repel villagers protesting against the destruction of orchards.

The other, the Kampong Speu Sugar Company, is owned by Ly Yong Phat’s wife, Kim Heang. It borders a 8,343-hectare concession granted to another of his holdings, the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, which is embroiled in a heated dispute with more than 1,000 families.

That dispute has led to three arrests this year. According to a recent field report from the rights group Adhoc, more than 1,000 families are expected to face food shortages this year after being denied access to their farmland.

Ouch Leng, a land programme officer for Adhoc, which first obtained the agreements, said he believed it was a common practice for concessionaires to be charged what amounts to a nominal fee in exchange for development rights.

But he said the companies should be forced to pay higher rates, considering the costs incurred by villagers forced from their land.

“The government is not helping villagers get a better standard of living, but causing them to become poorer and poorer,” Ouch Leng said.
“No other country in the world is renting land at such a cheap price as Cambodia.”

Ly Yong Phat was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Chhean Kimsuon, a representative of the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, said she could not discuss the financial arrangements between the firm and the government.

However, she said the land concession would ultimately be beneficial for locals, providing jobs to 300 people.

“We will provide a lot of jobs for villagers when our company is operating,” she said.

Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries could not be reached for comment yesterday.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • PM warns party of complacency in leaked audio

    Two leaked audio tapes, purportedly of Prime Minister Hun Sen speaking candidly to senior officials, appear to hint at insecurities within the ruling party over the controversial dissolution of the country’s main opposition, with the premier warning that the party’s “struggle” didn’t

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially

  • Music festival promises big stage, has even bigger hopes

    With a line-up of local and international artists, and a massive outdoor venue booked on Koh Pich, or Diamond Island, Saturday’s Diamond Moon Festival is aiming to showcase contemporary musical and artistic talents at a scale rarely seen in the Kingdom. [img] But the