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Sub-decree on construction permit issued

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Cambodian labourers work on a high-rise building construction site in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Sub-decree on construction permit issued

The government has issued a sub-decree on construction permits, which define the jurisdiction for authorities to issue construction, repair, relocation and project commencement permits and licence renewals.

The permit applications will be processed through the so-called one-window service to increase the integrity of the approval process.

Consisting of 54 articles and 12 chapters, the sub-decree was signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on December 30.

It annuls the old sub-decree issued in 1997 and all legal documents which contradict this new sub-decree. The move came after the construction law came into force in November 2019.

The new sub-decree is issued to ensure the quality and safety of construction, protection of property and health of construction owners, building tenants and the public.

It is also issued to ensure construction and relocation works follow the proper procedures and technical specifications.

Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara has the authority to issue a letter of approval for construction and relocation for any construction covering more than 3,000sqm with more than 11 floors or a basement or underground space deeper than 5m, the sub-decree said.

The minister is also authorised to issue permits for high-risk storage facility construction and the construction of sport, tourism, and cultural buildings or structures. He also has the power to issue construction permits for a structure of 10m in height or above.

Municipal and provincial land management department directors, with approval from the municipal and provincial governor, are authorised to issue a licence for construction and relocation on a land area of less than 3,000sqm and buildings of less than 11 floors.

District and town governors have the jurisdiction to issue a licence for any construction covering no more than 500sqm of land area with no basement and building fences not more than 3m in height.

The sub-decree also defines the rights of those affected by the construction to file a complaint against the construction to the authority or through court procedures.

The sub-decree does not specify penalties, but it states that the offence of forging construction permits will be punishable as per the Criminal Code.

Ministry spokesman Seng Lot could not be reached for comment.

Phnom Penh municipal land management department director Sarin Vanna said on January 3 that the government also issued another sub-decree detailing the procedures on the approval, suspension and revocation of the licence to use a building.

The government also issues a separate sub-decree on terms and procedures to conduct an inspection of construction sites.

“These sub-decrees are the tools for enforcing the construction law at the national level. The government instruction is that everything is to go through one window service, which makes things easy,” Vanna said.

He urged the public to understand these sub-decrees and apply for the permits through the one window service. The officials in charge will facilitate the process, he said.

Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC) president Sok Kin said the sub-decrees were vital and could improve communication in the construction sector. He said in the past, some construction sites did not follow the law.

“These sub-decrees are important because in the past, Cambodia did not have a construction law and [some] buildings have collapsed. Then we had the [construction] law and now we have these sub-decrees.

“This is good for all because employers must be accountable and workers will benefit from that,” he said.

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