Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara has appealed to villagers not to sell social land concessions they receive, as they are intended for them to live on and farm, and hand down to their children.
He was speaking to villagers at a ceremony to present Immovable Property Ownership Certificates for the concessions and celebrate the achievements of the Land Allocation for Social and Economic Development Project Phase II (Lased II) in Kampong Chhnang province.
The government, Sophara said, provided social land concessions to the poor and former members of the armed forces who were in need, to build houses and farm.
Vorn Sipha, the governor of Samaki Meanchey district, said that Sophara had appealed to those receiving social land concessions to use them to build a prosperous life, raising animals and growing crops to improve their livelihoods and climb out of poverty.
The minister also encouraged them not to sell the land which is their future and their children’s inheritance. He also asked villagers not to pawn the land title as they would lose should they be unable to meet the repayments.
“Sometimes villagers sell their social land concession or pawn the land title to get money to support their daily living or to expand their businesses.
“[Sophara] appealed to the villagers not to do this, and we have made efforts to implement his recommendations. But we cannot ban them from selling or pawning the land as they have the right to do so,” Sipha said.
The villagers who sold or pawned their lands were mostly former members of the armed forces because they were old and their children did not stay with them, he said.
“Please don’t sell the land or pawn the title because it could make things more difficult,” he said.
Sorn Kimroeung, a former soldier and policeman living in Samaki Meanchey district’s Svay Chuk commune, spoke of his happiness after receiving a 30m by 30m plot of residential land and 1ha of agricultural land.
He promised to take care of the government-granted social land concession and use it to make a living. “I received a house and land for farming. I was very happy when I received the land title,” he said.
Kimroeung said a small number of people who had received titles for social land concessions encountered financial difficulties due to the area not having enough infrastructures. Hence, they sold or pawned them.
“Some villagers pawned the land title or sold it as they are very old. They sell because [the area] lacks supplies of water and electricity, as well as hospitals, and this causes difficulties,” he said.
Sophara said the Lased II project had been implemented by the Secretariat of the National Committee for Sub-national Democratic Development, the General Department of Housing at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction and the Department of Agriculture at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Financial support was provided by the World Bank to the tune of $25 million, with a government budget of $1.86 million for the five-year implementation from August 2016 to next December.
Five provinces were targeted, Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom, Tbong Khmum and Kratie, with 14 locations for social land concessions on a total of 17,042ha. Some 5,141 families had benefited.