Working towards greater community control over land, forests and natural resources

National draft land policy under scrutiny

Vientiane Times, 22 March, 2013

Representatives from various government sectors, the National Assembly (NA) and foreign experts from NGOs are discussing a national draft land policy before submitting it to the next ordinary session of the National Assembly. A two-day meeting on the draft policy began yesterday in Vientiane, chaired by the NA’s Economics, Planning and Finance Committee President, Dr Souvanpheng Bouphanouvong.

Speaking at the meeting, Dr Souvanpheng said land issues are a problem that impact on people’s lives as well as on the country, and everyone is required to share their ideas and carry out studies for the development of an appropriate land policy. Land management and use in Laos is encountering many problems which affect people’s lives and the potential of land use in line with socio-economic development. Thus, it is necessary to urgently improve land management and use.

The National Assembly has actively worked with the government to adopt a draft land policy as a foundation for management principles in order to move forward with the improvement of laws on land, forests, agriculture and other laws relating to land, aiming to ensure unity and that those laws are heading in the same direction.

Dr Souvanpheng said the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, the main body concerned with the draft land policy, will report on the details, methods and main content concerning land policy at this meeting. The committee has worked closely with the ministry and recognises their efforts towards creating a suitable land policy.

The NA will give consideration to adopting the national land policy at its next ordinary session. To ensure that everything contained in the policy is correct and appropriate, they held this meeting to hear comments from technical officials and experts on various issues. Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Dr Akhom Tounalom, said land issues urgently need to be resolved. If the correct policy is not devised, it will affect the livelihoods and earning capacities of ordinary people, as well as national resources and the environment.

The draft policy defines the overall directions and strategy plan in regards to short, medium and long-term land management and administration. It is designed to instigate socio-economic development and provide a basic reference for the improvement of legislation related to land, aiming to urge the government and people to use land in the right way. This will result in the maximum benefit and help Laos to graduate from least developed country status by 2020, Dr Akhom said.

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