I have a great pleasure to join all of you today in groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a cement factory whose production is indeed one of the most critical needs for the people of Cambodia. I am grateful to HE Minister Suy Sem – for Industry, Mine and Geology – for his efforts from conducting negotiations to the groundbreaking ceremony today. I wish to also express my sincere thanks to the Kompot cement group which is a consortium of the Siam Cement and the Khov Chili companies. Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranaridh, in his capacity as co-chairman of the Cambodian Development Council and in my capacity as the Prime Minister, we highly appreciate what we have started here today. As mentioned by HE Suy Sem, many investment proposals have been submitted to the Ministry. In addition to this we have a study on iron ore in Preah Vihear.
I wish to take this chance to express my sincere thanks to the provincial authority of Kompot as well as the district authorities of Daung Tung and Banteay Meas for their joint cooperation in making this event possible. We have an increasing demand for construction materials, especially cement. According to the report of HE Minister Suy Sem, in 2006, our need of cement would increase to 1.6 million tons with a projection of demand of 2.7 million tons in 2012. In the 1980s we continued to produce cement in the cement factory of Chakrey Ting, which is not far from here. In the post liberation from genocide period, we contacted the then Soviet experts to renovate the factory, but according to their study the cost of investment would be more expansive than importing it. We then offered the chance to the company belonged to Oknha Su Srun, to various others, that is why I say it has been under studies but never realized. Because it has taken us a long time in vain, we have decided to build a new factory, which will go into production in 2008, and hopefully this will relieve us from some of the concerns.
The first down investment will be 82 million dollars with a capacity to produce 950,000 tons of cement per year. In the second stage, the company will invest another 100 million dollars with the capacity of production increases to 2 million tons per year in 2011. I wish that this plan will be practical as its output suits well with domestic market demand in 2012. In addition to this, more need to be produced and I wish that more companies would do so to fill in the gap as well as to cater for the need in foreign markets. In some countries, investment in producing cement has reached a level where the mineral for producing it faces depletion. Therefore investment in cement production in Cambodia could be a long-term one. We will soon announce our area of priority number 7. Let me recall that in 1987 we have put out four areas of priority – 1) agriculture with immediate focus on irrigation, 2) transportation with a focus on building roads, rails, ports, airports, etc. 3) electricity 4) human resource development. Later we have added two more – 5) promote handicraft and processing industry for export – take for instance efforts have been made in textile and clothing, and 6) tourism development. As far as priority area 5 is concerned, our export has increased to a size of about two billion US dollars, while in area 6, we have attracted about 1,400,000 foreign tourists, and as a result more international standard hotels have been built in Siemreap province. We are in the process of figuring out as to when to declare about the fact that we have discovered the oil deposit inside the Cambodian sea water territory, hopefully it will complement our need for oil and gas. So, the seventh area will be investment in mineral resources.
Some people criticize that this would size down the hill – the fact that we take them as materials for producing cement. What are we going to build our road with, if they say so? A few people came to Cambodia telling us not to cut down trees, while they already did so in their countries. Our strategy is to have concerned ministries to conduct a study to identify which minerals and where can be exploited, and which parts and where should be left untouched. It would be unrealistic when we get the criticism for importing cement from Thailand, from Vietnam and now, perhaps, for producing our cement. We will declare it one day the area of priority 7 but we have to wait until we actually have them in real term. We now are in the process of reducing our dependency on wood for housing to concrete – but it is absurd to criticize us again for taking sand from the river. However what is indeed a matter of pride is how our people benefit from them – take for instance our people would be buying cement that is free of import tax, and they will also have work to do, while the price of cement drops. I wish to see a competition in a free market for cement with good quality.
Now I would like to say a few things relating to the two districts of Kompot. Rainy season rice production in the two districts proved to be good – where an average 2.5 to 3 tons per hectare has been achieved in an area of 500 hectares of rice cultivation inn Daung Tung, and about same range of yield has been harvested on a surface of 28705 hectares. I wish to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the excellent works done by the CPP work team for Kompot. Some people criticize me that I have used my influence in education, what else should the Prime Minister be doing if not for education? I wish you all, those oppose me included, send your children to the schools and universities or libraries that we built. I have a plan to build a 200,000 to 300,000 US dollars library with computers that people can benefit from searching for information.
Samdech Hun Sen on that occasion offers on behalf of Kompot factory to build a school building of six classrooms to the primary school of Thnaot, a director office and a sewing school building with 50 sewing machines to the Bun Rany-Hun Sen Daung Tung College, with computers and printers, a copier and a generator, a laterite road of 13 Kilometers,etc.