Vientiane Times, 23 April, 2013
The government is preparing to reclassify the land in the Phou Khao Khuay National Protected Area where the Nam Mang 1 hydropower plant is located in hopes of benefitting further from the project by generating funding for forest protection. The matter was raised for discussion by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee which met last week in preparation for the Assembly’s upcoming fifth ordinary session.
“We want to make money from the land being used in the protected area so that we will have funding to protect the forests,” said the Director General of the Department of Forest Resources Management under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr Khampanh Nanthavong. The Nam Mang 1 power plant has been in operation for over a year. More than 200 hectares of land in the protected area were used to build the plant and related facilities.
In an interview with Vientiane Times yesterday, Mr Kh amphanh explained that the construction of any hydro power plant damages forestry, and the government would like this loss to be compensated for. However, he added, there should be regulations for legal reference so that fee s can be collected from business operations in line with Presidential Decree No. 3 on fees from commercial activities.
If the revenue collected as a result of reclassifying the land is about 30,000 kip per square metre as expected, the government will earn about 60 billion kip from the project. Mr Khamphanh said the idea was proposed by the Ministry of Energy and Mines. His ministry agreed with it and the initiative will be put forward for approval at the upcoming National Assembly session. “We cannot collect money from business operators if we do not have regulations in place to refer to. If the land reclassification is approved, the government will earn enough revenue to meet its needs,” he said.