Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina on March 16 chaired a meeting at his ministry to assess the overall status of economic land concession (ELC) investment projects as well as to offer recommendations on how to effectively resolve pertinent issues and deliver benefits for the economy.

An ELC is a long-term lease that permits concessionaires to clear and use land for agricultural or agro-industrial exploitation, as outlined by Sub-decree No 146 on ELCs, adopted in 2005. The arrangements aim to stimulate rural economic development and support the financial security of locals.

The minister suggested that inactive projects be replaced with new, legitimate ones backed by investors with clear and realistic plans that could meaningfully spur provincial development and drive the economy at the national level.

Tina put forward a $5-per-hectare fine for concessionaires who fail to pay land fees as required, and called for efficient registration as well as for the joint resolution of related issues through shared responsibility, with a view to prevent encroachment of state land.

The minister asked attendees to recognise the importance of ELCs and addressing emerging challenges, and called for all involved to be committed and responsible in their efforts – putting national interests first, work closely with concessionaires, and make transparent evaluations of overall progress.

Tina requested that the ELC secretariat hold trimonthly meetings to review developments and adequately tackle any pressing issues in a timely manner. He also told the agency to ensure that projects are actively contributing to development and are otherwise suitable.