Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon has instructed the Secretariat of Economic Land Concessions (ELC) to cooperate with local authorities on immediate legal action against illegal encroachment on ELCs managed by two companies in Kratie province’s Snuol district.
The instruction followed a February 23 meeting between Sakhon and Eugene Kraamwinkel, the CEO of the two companies – Dau Tu Saigon-Binh Phuoc Co Ltd (SBK) and Phu Rieng Kratie Aphivath Caout Chouc Co Ltd – on the progress of the firms’ ELC development.
Kraamwinkel requested that his companies’ new master plan for the concessions receive expedited review and that immediate legal action be taken against encroachment on the ELCs which his firms have received from the government.
“Review and amend the paperwork if necessary and cooperate with the companies in a timely manner,” Sakhon was quoted as telling the ELC secretariat.
The minister also expressed his support for initiatives undertaken by SBK for the construction of schools for children and youth as well as the establishment of health centres in the area.
He said human resource development starts with learning general knowledge and then technical knowledge, while educating workers helps reduce migration.
Sakhon gave high marks to the companies’ overall efforts in developing ELCs into rubber and cashew plantations that had employed many local people and benefitted Cambodia economically.
“Nothing really would have happened without the cooperation of all stakeholders, including the provincial authorities and especially the ELC secretariat,” he said.
The minister encouraged Kraamwinkel to increase the pace of cultivation of the land and assured him that the encroachment problem would be dealt with swiftly at the close of their visit.
Snuol district governor Sam Nal said on February 23 that he was not aware of any new encroachment and that the companies had been holding the ELCs for many years and should consider commencing legal action in case of encroachment.
“Right now, there seems to be no problem I can see – but even if there is a problem, the land has a clear title. We issued a title to the company many years ago and if there are people invading their land again, only the court really has the discretion to resolve that,” he said.