Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Land concessions to come under focus in annual govt reviews

Land concessions to come under focus in annual govt reviews

Land concessions to come under focus in annual govt reviews

The Agriculture Ministry will screen economic land concessions to ensure companies are conforming to govt concession licences.

SCRAMBLE FOR LAND

Up to November 2008, the government granted 65 licences to private companies covering 895,176 hectares, according to Agriculture Ministry statistics. In 2007, the ministry ordered the cancellation of 37 concessions covering 332,240 hectares in 11 provinces.

THE Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries plans to embark on a countrywide evaluation of economic land concessions in order to ensure companies are meeting their agreements as set out in government concession licences, according to officials.

Chan Tong Yves, a secretary of state at the ministry, said working groups had been established to monitor and evaluate companies holding concessions on an annual basis.

"If they do not follow [the contracts], we will have strict measures for them," he said.

"We will inspect and evaluate the proposed investments before we grant licences, and we will review them after that."

Between June and August 2008, the ministry set up five working groups for reviewing 35 economic land concession companies in 13 provinces, three of which had been forced to cancel their contracts.

If they do not follow [the contracts], we will have strict measures for them.

Two others were issued with warnings and 30 were pushed to speed up the implementation of their projects.
"They did not implement the agreement in their contracts," Chan Tong Yves said of the two companies stripped of their concessions.

Chan Tong Yves added that the ministry had held discussions with companies holding concessions of more than 10,000 hectares - the maximum allowed by law - but that it had not yet moved to demarcate and subdivide the land.

Tan Monivann, deputy director general of Mong Reththy Group, whose Green Sea Industry Co Ltd received roughly 100,000 hectares of economic land concessions in Stung Treng province in 2001, said he had had not yet discussed the reduction of the company's land.

"We are implementing the projects in accordance with our master plan," he said.

But Ny Chakrya, head of the monitoring section of local rights group Adhoc, said that about 20 to 30 percent of companies implemented their projects but added that some others were logging valuable timber in the concession area without developing the land or implementing the agreed projects.

"Some companies did not implement their projects or any development in the area that could benefit local people," he said.

"The government has the right to grant concessions to private companies for investment, but they did not study the impacts over a long period."

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