Three ministers will later this month meet to discuss amendments of the forestry law, and the law on natural resources, to pave the way for decentralisation in order to transfer more decision making power to sub-national levels.
Sak Setha, secretary of state at the Interior Ministry, said yesterday that Interior Minister Sar Kheng, chairman of the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development, will meet with Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, and Environment Minster Say Sam Al in late November.
Mr Setha said the meeting will focus on forestry law and natural resource law amendments, noting that authorities are currently facing challenges to combat forestry crimes and to protect natural resources due to central decision making.
“We have realised that the laws have made it difficult for authorities at sub-national levels to make decisions, so crimes cannot be cracked down on sufficiently,” he said. “That’s why we need to make some amendments on these laws.”
He said the new draft laws allow grassroots authorities to take action.
“The capacity of authorities is not enough in Cambodia, where forestry and natural resources are rich. So we need participation from all levels,” Mr Setha said.
In August, Mr Setha sent letters to three provincial governors in the country’s northeast, including Mondulkiri, Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng, to take action to prevent and suppress forest crimes after the European Union flagged illegal logging operations at Virachey National Park, Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary and in the natural forest north of the Lower Sesan II Dam.
Mr Sakhon noted that technical groups studying the amendments have recently wrapped up their work.
He said the new draft law on forestry provides authorisation to each provincial governor, apart from the Forestry Administration, to take necessary action to crack down on forestry crimes.
“Although the new laws are yet to be adopted, we have recently practised this type of power distribution and it went quite well,” Mr Sakhon said.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries last week issued a nine month report for 2018, noting 846 forestry crimes were uncovered, included land grabbing, illegal logging, and poaching.
Mr Sam Al could not be reached for comment yesterday.