Effective June 10, l993 the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC)
has placed a moratorium on the sale, transfer or leasing of public assets in Cambodia.
The ban will remain in effect until the establishment of a new government following
the promulgation of a new constitution in mid-September.
The simple effect of the ban is that during the moratorium all transactions involving
the sale, transfer or leasing of public assets are deemed illegal and, therefore,
any transactions of this nature will be null and void.
The UNTAC ban, embodied in Directive No. 93-7, was endorsed by the Supreme National
Council of Cambodia on June 10 and went into effect immediately.
The U.N. has been pushing for such a ban for several months. Concern arose within
UNTAC over the issue after various irregularities were documented which included
cases of state property being transferred to individuals or political parties without
cost. As well, sales of public land were documented either at no cost or at below
market value or with the stated cost being less than the amount paid by the buyer.
Overall, the U.N. was concerned with a situation involving "a serious erosion
of the public wealth" according to one internal UNTAC document on the subject
obtained by the Post.
On March 12 this year, the U.N. issued a directive requiring existing administrations
to compile an inventory of all public assets, which by definition include all property,
assets, movable or immovable, whose ownership is claimed by one of the four signatories
to the Paris Peace Accords.
The directive was aimed primarily at the former State of Cambodia (SOC) which controlled
80 per cent of the countryside and, for all practical purposes, all public assets.
SOC, for whatever reason, did not take any action on the directive. UNTAC made many
requests privately for them to do so, although the issue was not taken up by UNTAC
chief Yasushi Akashi in discussions with senior SOC officials.
In the absence of any movement by the SOC, the UN decided to proceed with the full
The Ministry of Finance, which is now headed by FUNCINPEC member Sam Rainsy, issued
a circular on June 30 to all provincial governors ordering them to compile a public
assets inventory list, a copy of which was only received at UNTAC headquarters on
Guidelines on control procedures for the disposition of state assets have been produced
by UNTAC and have been distributed to all provincial directors and financial controllers.