Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Land concessions: $1/hectare

Land concessions: $1/hectare

Land concessions: $1/hectare

TWO companies linked to Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat are among five that were granted economic land concessions requiring them to pay only US$1 per hectare in annual rent in exchange for development rights, according to newly discovered agreements with the government.

The contracts with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries state that the five concessionaires must begin paying the “rental fees” five years after the concessions were awarded.

One of the firms linked to Ly Yong Phat, the Koh Kong Sugar Industry Company, is at the centre of a land dispute that erupted in violence in 2006 when security guards fired guns to repel villagers protesting against the destruction of orchards.

The other, the Kampong Speu Sugar Company, is owned by Ly Yong Phat’s wife, Kim Heang. It borders a 8,343-hectare concession granted to another of his holdings, the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, which is embroiled in a heated dispute with more than 1,000 families.

That dispute has led to three arrests this year. According to a recent field report from the rights group Adhoc, more than 1,000 families are expected to face food shortages this year after being denied access to their farmland.

Ouch Leng, a land programme officer for Adhoc, which first obtained the agreements, said he believed it was a common practice for concessionaires to be charged what amounts to a nominal fee in exchange for development rights.

But he said the companies should be forced to pay higher rates, considering the costs incurred by villagers forced from their land.

“The government is not helping villagers get a better standard of living, but causing them to become poorer and poorer,” Ouch Leng said.
“No other country in the world is renting land at such a cheap price as Cambodia.”

Ly Yong Phat was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Chhean Kimsuon, a representative of the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, said she could not discuss the financial arrangements between the firm and the government.

However, she said the land concession would ultimately be beneficial for locals, providing jobs to 300 people.

“We will provide a lot of jobs for villagers when our company is operating,” she said.

Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries could not be reached for comment yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group