Daun Penh office land deal questioned

Source: Khmer Times

The outside of the Daun Penh offices which sit on prime real estate. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Daun Penh district officials have moved out of their offices after a deal with a private company to construct a new administration building on prime land, but the plan has already raised many questions.
“We have agreed to an investment with a private company that will build a new six-story building,” Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said.
He added that the new building will be completed within 18 months.
“The company will take some part of the land for their investment,” he said. He did not know what the company would do with the site or the cost of the investment.
“Daun Penh district officers have temporarily moved to work at the old Norton University building,” he said.
The administrative building had to be expanded to meet the needs of the public services, Mr. Measpheakdey said.
Local newspaper Kohsantepheap said on its website that the Daun Penh district site is 1,486 square meters. The Full Of Aces company involved will keep 600 square meters.
Kim Heang, the president of Khmer Estate, said private land 300 meters from Wat Phnom Park was priced at between $2,000 and $3,500 per square meter.
“State land might be 20 to 30 percent less compared with private land which has already had a land title,” Mr. Heang said.
“If we buy private land we get it within three days, but for state land we have to spend more time processing documents. Sometimes we don’t whether we will get the land or not.”
Sorn Chey, a member of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said he welcomed the development of new offices as part of the development of local government, but he feared that the government will lose the benefit if there is no public auction.
“First, the state will lose out on the price of land because that area is very expensive, and second, there could be collusion among parties to act improperly,” Mr. Chey said.
He cited the risk of corruption when there is no transparency in bidding.
Daun Penh governor Sok Penhvuth declined to comment, saying briefly said he was in a meeting with Phnom Penh municipal governor Pa Socheatevong.
No one from the company was available to provide detailed information.

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