The government earned $6.6 million in revenue from economic land concessions (ELCs), despite the fact that less than half of the firms granted the concessions paid rental fees, according to a report presented to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights.
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In the report, handed to UN’s Rhona Smith by Minister of Agriculture Veng Sakhon on Monday in Phnom Penh, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries said it received $6.6 million from 229 companies that were given ELCs.
It said that ELCs now cover 1,178,646 hectares of land in 19 provinces.
Srey Vuthy, the ministry’s secretary-general, said only about 40 percent of ELCs generate revenue for the government. He explained that firms that have not started to develop the land do not pay rent.
“We only collected money for about 40 percent of the land, as not all the companies have begun operations,” he said.
So far, the government has granted concessions to 330 firms, but 101 of those licenses – the equivalent of 748,064 hectares – were revoked due to inactivity, according to the ministry.
A report from human rights group Licadho found that there were actually 275 firms with ELCs in Cambodia, having the rights to more than 2 million hectares of land.
Most ELCs are used for planting rubber, cassava, palm oil, and sugar cane, the ministry’s report said.