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City department leaves offices

City department leaves offices

Staff of public ceremonies committee vacate building transferred to Pheapimex.

AGOVERNMENT committee charged with organising public ceremonies has begun clearing out its offices, which are located in a building that was transferred to local investment company Pheapimex in March, an official on the committee said Wednesday.

The National Committee for Organising National and International Festivals (NCONIF) was informed in March that 57 workers were to vacate their riverfront offices on Sisowath Quay following the building’s transfer to Choeung Sopheap, the head of Pheapimex.

The transfer is one in a series of transactions that have drawn the ire of government critics, who say the companies benefiting are not subject to a competitive bidding process that could ensure they pay market prices for valuable property.

The move, originally scheduled for the end of March, was pushed back so that the committee could focus on preparations for Khmer New Year and the Royal Ploughing Ceremony. Members of the committee had also asked that they be given more space than the five rooms that were offered at the General Inspectorate for the National Buddhist Education of Cambodia.

A member of the committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Wednesday that it had since been granted about half of the space in the Inspectorate building, and that the relocation of office equipment began late last week.

“But we still work at the old office building until the new office is completed,” he said. He said the new offices had yet to receive water and electricity connections or air conditioning.

He added that the committee had sent a letter in May to the headquarters of the Cambodian People’s Party requesting compensation, but that there had been no response.

Choeung Sopheap’s lawyer, Khiev Sebphan, said Wednesday that any problems stemming from the relocation would need to be resolved by Minister of Cults and Religions Min Khin, who arranged for the transfer of the building.

He added that he did not know what Pheapimex planned to do with either the committee’s building or the neighbouring Hotel Renakse, a French colonial structure that it also controls. Choeung Sopheap and Min Khin could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

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