Vientiane Times, 29 August 2014
Villagers whose land was used to build a casino and airport in the northwestern province of Bokeo have been awarded full compensation in accordance with the government’s policy, senior government officials have confirmed. Deputy Director General of the Land Administration Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr Anothai Chanthalasy made the comment at a press conference held recently at the National Assembly after the issue was raised through the telephone hotline set up during the Assembly’s ordinary session.
A villager who gave up land for construction purposes made the call to the hotline, claiming that the compensation paid to locals after their land was given to a Chinese investor to build the casino was unacceptably low. Mr Anothai told the media that compensation had been awarded in line with a prime ministerial decree, under which the amount of cash awarded in compensation for land was agreed by the provincial governor.
Compensation of up to 175 million kip was paid out for one hectare of residential land and farmland such as that used to grow rice and other crops. The occupiers of land that had not been developed in any way were given 30 million kip per hectare. The government had granted the Chinese investor an 827-hectare concession in Bokeo province, for the development of various tourist attractions in the north along with associated projects such as the King Romance Casino. The government later gave the green light to the investor to build an airport in the province, for which an additional 87 hectares of land were required.
Director of the province’s Natural Resources and Environment Department, Mr Somphone Vannasy, told the Vientiane Times yesterday that compensation to the occupiers of land within the 827-hectare concession and the 87-hectare plot had now been paid. Land occupied by 43 families was affected by the planned construction of the airport, while seven villages were affected by the casino and related businesses. Mr Somphone said that all affected villagers had now received compensation.
He said that compensation of more than 176 million kip was awarded for land used for the planned airport, which was higher than the normal rate – a rate he claimed was reasonable. The casino, hotel and other businesses are already operational. Work is now in progress to start construction of the airport, which is needed to facilitate development in the region. The government is developing the region as the Golden Triangle special economic zone. Mr Somphone said the government has approved the use of 3,000 hectares for the special economic zone, including the existing 827 hectares and the additional 87 hectares for the airport.