Though the government praises use of social land concessions, calling them an essential tool for poverty alleviation, opposition and civil society leaders point out flaws in their implementation.
… The government has given priority for only the economic land concessions.
THE government this year has allocated 34,800 hectares of land in social land concessions that have benefited 14,500 poor families in 12 provinces, according to a report from the Ministry of Land Management released Tuesday.
But opposition politicians and activists say they believe the manner in which the government doles out such concessions is neither transparent nor effective.
Duch Vontito, director of the National Secretariat for Social Land Concessions at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, said on Tuesday that the report demonstrated how social land concessions could facilitate poverty alleviation.
“The report shows that the implementation of land distribution by the local authorities has been smooth and transparent, and they have followed the law and sought the participation of all stakeholders,” he said.
He went on to note that the government has plans for another land redistribution project near Preah Vihear temple, in which 14,300 hectares would be allocated to the families of soldiers stationed there. In addition, he said, 1,000 homes would be built on the land.
Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, called on the government to ramp up its use of social land concessions to benefit poor families, saying that the programme pales in comparison to the use of land concessions for economic projects. He also said social land concessions have not been employed to help poor families facing eviction.
“We found that currently the government has given a priority for only the economic land concessions, while many poor households have been evicted from their land,” Thun Saray said. “I think that implementation of the policy of social land concessions has been slow.”
Sam Rainsy Party Secretary General Ke Sovannroth said that although the party supported the broad idea of the use of social land concessions, it does not believe that parliamentarians have been given enough information regarding how those policies are carried out.
“The lack of transparency in the distribution of state land has repeatedly caused us to voice concern over the political pressure that has been placed on poor villagers,” she said, adding that the party is particularly concerned that poor SRP supporters “face discrimination under the policies implemented by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party”.