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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UNTAC Bans Sales of Public Assets

UNTAC Bans Sales of Public Assets

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

ban.

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

July 13.

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.

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