Officials approved 618 construction projects worth a combined US$919 million in the first three months of 2009, Lao Tip Seiha, director of the Ministry of Land Management's construction department, said Tuesday.
The figures compare favourably to the 468 projects worth $481 million approved in the first quarter of 2008.
"In just three months I received 618 new projects from both Cambodian and foreign investors, which is a good result for the construction sector compared to 2008 when I got only 468 projects," he said.
The dollar value was boosted significantly by the approval of a $583 million project to build a mixed-use development in a special economic zone in Sihanoukville.
Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone Co plans to build a five-star hotel, business centre, garment factory, supermarket and warehouses in the coastal resort.
But National Valuers Association of Cambodia President Sung Bonna cautioned against getting too excited by the figures.
"It's good to hear that proposed capital investment in the construction sector has increased - but if investors don't actually develop their projects they will remain just as numbers and will not help the economy grow," Sung Bonna said.
He said many developers had asked for construction permits but had no intention to start work."
This is something that we are all worried about," he said.
Figures released previously show the ministry approved 2,156 development projects in 2008 worth a combined US$3.191 billion, down 0.64 percent on 2007 when 1,942 projects worth $3.211 billion were approved.
Only $500 million worth of projects were approved in 2003. More than 30 percent of construction projects may have been placed on hold due to the global downturn, the UN Development Programme said in a report released last month.