Draft Law on Land Policy for Sihanoukville Approved

A draft law on land policy for Sihanoukville has been given the green light, laying out plans to transform the province into a multi-purpose special economic zone and ASEAN green city
View of Preah Sihanouk province in 2021. Kiripost/Iea Sonita
View of Preah Sihanouk province in 2021. Kiripost/Iea Sonita

The government on Friday approved a draft law on management and utilization of land with the aim of developing Preah Sihanouk province into a multi-purpose special economic zone and an ASEAN green city.

The draft “Land Management and Use Policy for the Development of Sihanoukville as a Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone 2022-2038” was approved during a plenary meeting of the Office of the Council of Ministers, chaired by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Phay Siphan, government spokesman, posted on his Facebook account that the draft law sets new policies and refers to the development of land sector management. This includes the land administration and land management sub-sectors, and management and development of the province’s coastal area.

The policies include measures that are necessary to manage land and natural resources effectively, productively and sustainably for future generations.

Siphan said that the draft law has the vision to develop Sihanoukville into a multi-purpose special economic zone as an ASEAN green city, and modern national development with sustainability, prosperity, health and happiness at its heart.

This will be achieved by promoting integration, smart city and green development, and transforming Sihanoukville into the “most beautiful coastal resorts in the world, national growth center, international financial center, international gateway, national logistics center, with links to ASEAN and global markets”, Siphan said.

He added that by 2038, it will be a center for industrial science, technology, modern technology and innovation, which harmonizes with a better living environment and preserves national cultural and historical identity.

In addition, the other vision is to contribute to turning Cambodia into a high-middle income country by 2023 and a high income country by 2050.

Land-related sector strategies include development of transport infrastructure and information and communication technology, telecommunications, digital technology and cyber security management, development of water and water resources, and the development of the energy and electricity sectors.

Economic development includes industrial, science, technology and innovation, business and trade, tourism and agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

Environmental protection and natural resource management includes solid waste management, liquid waste management and necessary measures to protect natural resources, the environment and key protected areas.

Relevant strategies and management include strengthening governance, good governance and institutions, improving institutional and human capital capacity, developing smart cities, promoting digital governance, digital society, digital economy, digital citizenship.

Management of major risks and prevention of natural disasters, domestic and foreign risks and prevention of natural disasters will be achieved by defining the protection and maintenance of beaches, seawater, water sources, reservoirs and waterways, preventing waterway obstruction flow and disaster prevention at parking lots.

Nith Kosal, a former junior researcher and data hub coordinator at Future Forum, told Kiripost that the new land policy is welcome as a tool to develop the economic operations of private companies and local citizens in Sihanoukville.

“Nowadays, the potential economy of Sihanoukville is majorly dependent on the construction sector, real estate, ports, and special economic zones, including casinos and tourism. Nevertheless, in the future if tall buildings are going to be established a lot more in Sihanoukville, the citizens and companies will relocate their investment there,” Kosal said.

Therefore, in the future the industrial and service sectors are forecast to see heavy industries relocate their companies in the Sihanoukville area due to its convenient conditions for transportation methods as it is located near the port, he added.

In order to economically grow, there should be availability of company investment and other related economic policies that need the support of land policy and the formation of a smart city.