Vientiane Times, 29 April 2014
Laos reaching its target of issuing one million land titles by 2015 “is possible”, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Mr Noulin Sinbandith said on Friday. Work on giving out land titles began in 1997 and since then around 730,000 have been issued, according to the minister.
Mr Noulin spoke to local media at a meeting between the government cabinet, Vientiane Mayor and provincial governors that closed on Friday in Vientiane. He said it was possible to achieve the target of issuing one million land titles by 2015, which was set in the seventh national five-year socio-economic development plan (2011-2015) and the resolution of the ninth Party Congress.
“The ministry has assigned provinces to pursue the ambitious target [of issuing the remaining 270,000 titles] by 2015,” he told reporters. “We estimate that we will achieve the target.” He said work had been carried out slowly over recent years for several reasons, notably the change to the organisation overseeing the operation.
The issuance of land titles was previously overseen by the National Land Management Authority but was then shifted to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. The change meant the ministry needed to form new teams, which took some time and slowed the process. “Now everything is back to normal. I think we will reach the target,” Mr Noulin said.
The Director General of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Land Administration Department, Mr Siphandone Sihavong, said the government allocated two billion kip to carrying out the work issuing land titles this fiscal year. But with the plan to issue a further 120,000 titles this year, Mr Siphandone said the allocated funding fell far short of what was required. He said at least 50 billion was needed for this year and next year to hit the final target of one million land titles.
To overcome financial constraints, district officials in charge of issuing the titles are expected to borrow from district budgets and then be reimbursed at a later date through money collected from the issuance fees. The director said district authorities agreed to divide some budget to carry out the work and officials would repay them after the fees were collected.
He said other options for raising funds, including allowing the participation of the private sector, are also being considered. On average, around 160,000 kip is charged as a land title fee to cover basic expenses. The issuance takes about three months to process, according to the director, who cited the relevant regulations.