The Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara has appointed Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kouch Chamroeun as provincial chairman of the committee on land use and allocation.
His new role will be to plan land use, make requests and demarcate economic land concessions where necessary.
The provincial committee will also include Liem Sochea as vice-chairman and more than 20 officials from the provincial department of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction as well as other district governors as members.
Sophara said: “The committee will take charge of land planning, economic land concession decisions, perform annual updates of data involving vacant state land in the province, identify land recipients and acquirers and carry out a study for future economic land concessions.
“The provincial committee must make decisions on vacant land in line with the needs of recipients in all towns, districts and provinces.
“It is tasked with checking and assessing plans for land use and economic land concessions proposed by the commune and district councils and approving plans for state land allocations at provincial level.
“Besides, the provincial committee will also ensure the commune and district councils’ land use plans are met and that all land is properly categorised. It can approve, deny or revise any plan for economic land concessions proposed by the commune and district councils.”
Sophara also said the committee is duty-bound to forward plans for economic land concessions for review and approval and coordinate work with the relevant ministries and institutions to build physical infrastructures including communication networks, wells, community ponds, health centres and schools.
“It will also check and assesses the implementation of economic land concessions in provinces and collaborate with the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority [CMAA] to identify locations which contain explosives,” he said.
Ministry spokesman Seng Lot said on Wednesday that the appointment to the committee signified a change in roles because previously, former Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Yun Min was the chairman.
“The committee involves the provincial administration and relevant officials who will work together. Their main aim is to allocate and manage economic land concessions in the province.
“Through the committee, there is a very clear procedure to allocate land concessions to citizens,” he said.
Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesman Kheang Phearum said the committee is not a national-level one to solve land disputes, and therefore the appointment of the new chairman only signified a change in leadership.
The committee implements the plans according to the mechanism of the provincial administration as defined by its directive, he said.
Cambodian National Research Organisation (CNRO) director Sok Sokhom told The Post on Wednesday that the committee would be able to reduce poverty levels in the province.
“If the working group has the will to work together, it could mean that poor people will get decent housing and land in which to live on. The working group should also conduct a census of state land in the province as quickly as possible.
“To protect encroachments on economic land concessions, they should be properly listed in the provincial records.
“To make the committee’s work more efficient, another working group or sub-committee from a civil society organisation should be set up to help. This group could then help monitor and participate in decision-making on land, improving transparency in the process,” he said.