Can the new construction law work out the kinks in the sector?

For over a decade, billions of dollars have poured into the construction and real estate sectors, which until last year was not regulated. A year later, the law has yet to take effect, mired by jurisdiction overlaps, slow-to-enact supporting regulations, and apathy.

Despite the lack of safety and hard labour, scores of rural Cambodians have ditched traditional farming to serve in the booming construction sector which saw investments double to $11.4 billion in 2019 from $5.3 billion in 2018.

It is one of four economic pillars that has supported gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 10 years. Last year, it was the largest GDP growth driver at 35.7 per cent, employing a total workforce of 200,000.

Just before the coronavirus pandemic blighted the economy, the sector recorded a 47 per cent increase in total investments at $2 billion in the first two months of this year.

The long-drawn Law on Construction, delves into every aspect of construction such as permits for building, repair or demolition, technical regulations, use of material, equipment and products, dangerous building, insurance, the liability of construction stakeholder, and construction occupancy.

It has created building inspectors to monitor ongoing constructions, a firm to check building designs, and the compulsory need for buildings to have occupancy certificates.

Sites that are less than 500sqm and below four floors are under the purview of the district administration. If it is less than 3,000sqm, the provincial governor or Phnom Penh city hall oversees it, while anything beyond that is the jurisdiction of the MLMUPC.

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