Chinese companies yesterday met with the government and NGOs in an attempt to resolve conflicts caused by investment projects in Cambodia.
Toek Vanara, director of the NGO Forum, said China was the country’s biggest investor and had helped create many jobs for Cambodians.
However, he warned some firms lacked proper corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and failed to compensate locals who were affected by their investment work.
“Some companies who invest in Cambodia still do not consider CSR or give compensation when they cause conflicts such as land disputes or problems with dam developments,” he said.
“We want to work with them to ensure that development in Cambodia does not harm people or the environment.”
Wang Xiaoguang, a CSR expert from China, said in the meeting that all Chinese companies who invest abroad must have CSR policies and provide compensation to locals affected by any development.
“We should encourage firms who invest to think of CSR,” he said.
“However some compensation demands are very high, which puts a lot of pressure on companies.”
Soy Chivon, an official from the Finance Ministry, said an inter-ministerial committee must study compensation involved in any foreign development project before investment from all companies.
“Most development projects have an impact and there is an inter-ministerial committee to study that and decide on compensation, but in some cases, residents do not agree to the compensation which firms and the government agree to give.
“They think the compensation is too low, but the committee has to calculate compensation according to the law,” he said. According to a government report, trade between Cambodia and China in 2016 was $4.8 billion, up 7.4 percent on the previous year.
By end of 2016, China’s total contracted investment in Cambodia was $11.8 billion, accounting for 34.3 percent of Cambodia’s total foreign investment.
The Chinese company Hydrolancang International Energy has invested more than $800 million to develop the Lower Sesan II dam in Stung Treng province.
More than 100 families in Sre Kor and Kbal Romeas commune are still waiting for compensation, despite the firm having agreed to pay and rehouse them.