Authority over economic land concessions (ELCs) currently under the purview of the Ministry of Environment will be transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture, while all protected areas and nature preserves currently under the Ministry of Agriculture will pass to the Ministry of Environment, according to a sub-decree issued on Friday.
The sub-decree, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, also states that the Ministry of Environment reserves the right to submit amendments to laws pertaining to ELCs despite the transfer of control.
“The Ministry of Environment is authorised to make amendments to relevant laws and submit them to the Council of Ministers for review, to be forwarded to the National Assembly for approval,” it reads.
Previously, control of the country’s 2 million hectares of ELCs was divided between the two ministries, according to Eang Sophallet, a Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson. Exactly how much land is being transferred, however, is unclear. “We are figuring it out,” he said.
Seng Lot, spokesman for the Ministry of Land Management, which keeps a record of ELCs, said an inter-ministerial commission is in charge of overseeing that transfer – as well as the reclamation of 1 million hectares of ELCs that the prime minister promised to turn into social land concessions in a fiery speech at the Ministry of Environment last month. “The revoked ELCs will be handed over to provincial land committees,” who will coordinate their redistribution, he said.