Wednesday, December 16, 2009

October construction approvals up 16pc

16 December 2009
Soeun Say

Government signed off on building projects worth $212m in October and notes that activity in the sector is picking up

The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction approved 176 construction projects worth a combined US$212 million in October, according to figures released Tuesday.

The latest round of approvals brings the number of new projects given the go-ahead to 1,981 over the first 10 months of the year, up 16 percent on the same period in 2008. However, the book value of the approved projects was just $1.89 billion, 19.6 percent lower than the $2.35 billion indicative value of the projects approved to the end of October 2008, the figures showed.

Official November approvals were not available Tuesday, but Lao Tip Seiha, director of the ministry’s Department of Construction, said applications for at least 130 construction projects worth a combined $57 million had been provisionally approved and were still awaiting ministerial approval.

“We hope that the construction sector will continue to rise ... in the coming years, as more housing is still necessary for the Cambodian people,” he said. “It is the right time to launch construction activity at the moment, as it is the dry season and the economic situation seems to be getting better.”

Lao Tip Seiha said the effects of the global financial crisis were still being felt in the construction sector, with fewer applications for larger, ambitious developments, but that activity is picking up through smaller-scale projects. A number of developments on hold or scaled back as a result of the global financial crisis, among them Posco E&C’s $300 million residential development in Phnom Penh, had also resumed, he said.

“We are still receiving many construction applications from both local and foreign companies, and construction activity at construction sites is still going smoothly,” he said. “Some projects which were delayed last year have been resumed.”

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said the ministry needs to speed up its approval of construction projects, as delays have been causing problems in a sector already badly hurt by the global downturn.

Lao Tip Seiha said October approvals included some private hospitals, gas stations in Kratie and Kampong Cham provinces, supermarkets, a proposed 1,422-apartment building called Sony City, a $17 million concrete products manufacturing facility in Kandal province, and other factories in special economic zones in Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk province.

According to ministry figures, 2,156 construction projects worth $3.19 billion were approved in 2008.

CPL Cambodia Property President Cheng Kheng said the impending passage of a law allowing foreigners to own units in apartment and office buildings will give a boost to the construction sector.


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