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Cambodia: Construction sector posts 83% decline in project approvals

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The value of construction projects approved by the government in the first quarter of the year has plummeted by 82.6 percent, when compared to the same period of 2009, the Phnom Peng Post reported, citing official figures reveal.

According to data released by the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction on Thursday, officials approved 566 construction projects countrywide worth a combined $159 million in the first three months of 2010.

In the first quarter 2009, 618 construction projects worth $919 million were given the green light.

“The world financial crisis is main reason for the downturn in the construction sector,” Nonn Pheany, director general at the ministry’s Administration Department said Thursday. She added that there have been few signs of recovery, and that it will be a waiting game to see if foreign investors are attracted to the sector later this year.

“It was not a good result,” she said, commenting on the quarterly figures. The results follow signs of a recovery in the beleaguered sector sparked some optimism within the construction community.

Sales in Phnom Penh’s new residential complexes were reportedly strong, and traders of construction and decoration material reported a rise in sales – some up to 25 percent.

However, after the latest figures were released, Sung Bonna, president of the National Valuers Association of Cambodia and president of Bonna Realty Group, confirmed Thursday that the sector is still experiencing a downturn.

He said the data show that in the first quarter of 2010 local and foreign investors still did not feel confident about the sector. “But I feel confident that for the second, third and fourth quarter, [the construction sector] will get better.

“According to my research, the private sectors in countries such as Singapore and Malaysia are looking [at Cambodia] and are interesting in investing in our country,” he said.

“But now, [investors] are studying their plans and preparing for capital investments in some provinces and towns in Cambodia,” he added. In 2009, according to Land Ministry figures, the total number of construction projects approved by the government was 1,805, worth a combined $1.679 billion – a value decline of 47.4 percent compared to the 2,156 schemes worth $3.192 billion approved in 2008.


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