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EU delegation doubts land concession policy of Cambodia
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A European Union (EU) delegation here on Friday expressed doubt about the land concession policy ofthe Cambodian government and also provided ways to address its negative effect.

Some companies with land concessions from the government have been exploiting the soil and the people originally living there, said Harmurt Nassauer, chairman of the delegation of the European Parliament, the executive body of EU, for relations with the countries of the Association of the Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN).

Their exploitation has led to confrontation and deprived the country of chances for sustainable development, he said at a press conference held upon the delegation's conclusion of its five-day visit to the kingdom.

"Field trips to some provinces told us that the land concession policy has become nightmare for the forestry-dependent communities," he said.

However, he added, the tension can be removed if both sides have good will and the companies do more good things to benefit the local communities.

Meanwhile, vice chairwoman Giovanna Corda told the press conference that some companies with land concessions have been exploiting the land through logging, which is negative for Cambodia.

The government must not allow them to ruin the country and proper management should be in place to protect these precious assets for all of us, she said.

The companies should help the local communities, like building schools and health care centers, but not destroy the nature and the people's living environment without thinking about the future, she added.

During its visit, the delegation respectively met Prime Minister Hun Sen, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh and other government and parliamentary leaders.

It also traveled to Kampong Chhnang and Pursat provinces and visited some EU-funded forestry projects, according to the release.

Cambodia has more than 200 kinds of trees, but the tree coverage rate has decrease from 70 percent to the current 35 percent due to lack of protection and over logging.

Major developer can have hundreds of hectares of land for development if the government approves his plan. Concession period used to reach 99 years for such developers.
(Xinhua News Agency February 8, 2008)

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