Nine economic land concessions have had their leases reduced by the Ministry of Environment under an ongoing audit of all major private landholdings in the country ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The companies, which the ministry did not name yesterday, all held land in Kampong Thom province’s Boeung Per Wildlife Sanctuary, amounting to 21,830 hectares in total.
Their contracts were reduced to 50-year leases, from 99- or 70-year leases previously.
In a statement yesterday, the Environment Ministry said it had so far cancelled the contracts for the development of more than 90,000 hectares leased to 23 firms after discovering they had not abided by their investment pledges.
Srun Darith, cabinet chief at the Environment Ministry, said that there were four companies that still required final evaluation, adding that a meeting scheduled for Thursday should see a final announcement of the end of the audit process.
“In fact, we have proposed that 90 companies have their investment duration reduced to 50 years, it’s just that some have not yet received an official notice. So far, we have [notified] 37 companies,” he said.
Following years of bad press over alleged abuses at the country’s vast plantations, Hun Sen in May 2012 issued an order banning the issuance of new concessions, which were themselves a scheme initiated over a decade ago after international pressure over the allocation of enormous logging concessions to business interests.