Vientiane Times, 28 May 2014
Lease concessions for state land are causing confusion among some foreign investors who are not sure whether they require documentation to be issued at the central or local levels of government. Generally, concessions of state land over 150 hectares for planting crops such as cassava and rubber trees are granted by the central level whereas less than this is processed at the local level.
The concession of state land needs to work via one door, not two doors, The National resources Environment Ministry’s Director General of the Department of Land Administration, Mr Siphandone Sihavon told Vientiane Times on Tuesday. Better administration and more effort are needed to speed up the progress of improving coordination between the central and local levels.
“At this instant, we are improving coordination between the central and local authorities to create confidence for investors,” Mr Siphandone said. As local officials did not always synchronise their efforts with the central authorities, sometimes they allow land concessions that overlap with some parts of National Protection Areas.
Major land concessions such as the That Luang marsh project in Vientiane are the responsibility of the national committee level. The majority of state land in Laos is leased for between 30 and 90 years. The land concessions for longer-term crops such as rubber plantations are provided in remoter areas of the country. Some of these crops need up to 10,000 hectares of land for planting, with the area of cultivation often 3,000 or 6,000ha.
Foreign investors cannot select the land they want, with the authorities allocating the plots for them.
A large Chinese investor has been recently looking to secure a concession for 10,000ha of land on the Bolaven plateau in Champassak province for rice, small crops and cattle raising. All of the land is located in the two districts of Mounlapamok and Pakxong and authorities will need to spend numerous months completing the survey study.
The survey covers the productive capacity of the land, topography, available water supply and other aspects of interest. If the land is found to be suitable, they will look to conclude an agreement. Mounlapamok district is suitable for raising beef cattle and planting rice but the Pakxong area is perfect for cash crop cultivation.
Pakxong district on the Bolaven Plateau remains the hub of small crop production in Laos. Here, Chinese investors are seeking over 1,000 hectares of land for planting vegetables. Five factories will also be built in the district, including a large capacity rice processing factory that will be able to manufacture 300,000 tonnes of polished rice per year. The Chinese investors have previous experience in rice production