PRIME Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday urged the authorities in Kep to tax the owners of unused plots of land in the province. He also said landowners must fence off land.
"[The provincial governor] must get landowners from Phnom Penh to construct proper fences around their plots," Hun Sen said on Wednesday at a ceremony to release fish fry into a Kep reservoir. "I think the state must force them ... [We] cannot keep the situation like this because Kep province is a tourist destination."
Hun Sen said that because plots remain undeveloped, plant growth spreads onto adjacent roads and affects tourism.
"There must be strict measures in place to improve municipal beauty," he said, adding that the system for taxing unused land needs to be strengthened. "We have a law to enable taxation. If owners do not pay tax, we must sue to seize the land."
Has Sareth, governor of Kep, told the Post there are 1,250 undeveloped and unfenced plots surrounding Kep town.
"Roughly 20 to 30 percent of the owners of unused land plots have paid tax, and the rest is uncollected," he said. "This is because landowners living in Phnom Penh or other provinces sometimes buy land to resell - and it's often hard to locate them."
At the same event the prime minister called on fishing lot operators to establish nurseries and keep stocks of breeding fish. If they do not, he warned, their licences to operate fishing lots will be given to others.
He said the country's 165 fish nurseries produce 60 million fry annually for 162 fishing lots.
"If the 162 lots can also produce baby fish, they are more capable than the farmers, so they could produce perhaps an extra 200 or 300 million fry annually," he said.
The premier said the fisheries sector has created jobs for 1.4 million people, or 10 percent of the population.
Fish is the most important protein source in Cambodia. Ministry of Agriculture figures last year showed a total catch of 471,000 tonnes of fish.
Most were freshwater fish - some 365,000 tonnes - but 66,000 tonnes of marine species were also landed, and 40,000 tonnes of aquaculture fish were harvested.