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

Up to ten mine projects could have concessions revoked

Vientiane Times, 8 Oct 2014

Some ten mine projects are likely to have their concessions revoked after investors granted the concessions failed to abide by the agreements they reached with the government, according to an official report. The report was presented at the annual meeting of the government held recently in Vientiane when the cabinet met with the Vientiane Mayor and the provincial governors.
Director General of the Investment Promotion Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Mr Achong Laomao told theVientiane Times the investors failed to take action to implement the projects within an appropriate time after getting approval from the government. Some investors also failed to pay related obligation fees and taxes to the government, he added.
The recent government meeting resolved that those companies which did not meet sufficient conditions or failed to abide by the agreements they made with the government must have their concessions revoked.

In 2012, the government suspended consideration and approval of new mine projects as well as rubber and eucalyptus plantation projects after observing problems in these sectors. The government also appointed a committee to carry out assessment on the existing projects across the country in a move to address and regulate the issue to ensure the effectiveness of the projects being carried out. The assessment is still under way with work set to be complete by 2015. In total, 502 mine projects have been approved, worth many hundreds of millions of dollars in total.
In addition to the mine projects, four rubber and eucalyptus plantation projects are also under consideration to have their concessions revoked. In total, 233 rubber and eucalyptus plantation projects have been approved covering an area of many hundreds of hectares. At the recent meeting, the government instructed the Ministry of Planning and Investment to work with the relevant sectors to push for potential investors to fully observe the agreements or memorandums of understating they signed with the government.
The government told the authorities not to tolerate  behaviours it has in previous cases, where the investors have just kept the projects on hold without action to implement them and asked to extend the concessions from the government. “Decisive and strict action must take place in line with the law,” the resolution of the meeting stated.
“Those companies not complying sufficiently with sufficient conditions or who have failed to abide by the agreements they made with the government must have their concessions revoked urgently. No exception conditions should be negotiated further with the government.”  Following the assessment that is set to be completed by 2015, the government will review its policy concerning the mining sector. It aims to maximise revenue collection from the sector before considering the approval of new mine projects after 2015, according to Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Bounthavy Sisouphanthong.

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