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

Land management deficiencies addressed as ministry meets

Vientiane Times: December 21, 2017

Factors including a national master plan on land allocation that has not yet been officially approved and the general lack of regulations have caused complications in land management and losses to state revenue.
The second nationwide meeting on land identified these factors as mitigating issues in land management over the past decade.
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Mr Sommad Pholsena presided over the meeting which opened yesterday and continues until Friday.

Land management

“Lack of good land governance and management has caused a severe leakage of revenue from land deals,” he said.
The meeting report defined 10 main factors leading to poor land management.
Land allocation in Vientiane, at provincial, district and village levels, faced difficulties because the authorities had no regulations as a reference, as the National Master Plan on Land Allocation was yet to be approved.
Consequently, some investors had encroached on and used public land without approval, leading to unregulated land use by individuals.
The report pointed out the urgent need for an amendment to the Law on Land to enable faster economic growth.
The law must address the rights to use land for construction of high-rise buildings and condominiums, and centralise the currently unregulated land trade.
“This plan especially focuses on the devolution of concession authorisation of government land between the authorities at central and local levels and the prohibition of land sales by village chiefs,” the report stated, adding that acceleration of the law amendment is needed for it to meet current development needs. The repeated implementation of the laws and other regulations on land between some sectors particularly between the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Finance caused complications in land management.
The lack of specific regulations on land management and land development in each sector has been a deficiency in the management of eight categories of land as defined by the Land Law.
The authorisation of some concession projects by authorities at central and local levels, which was not based on the law, and the lack of coordination between various authorities had led to encroachment in protection, production and conservation forests, and private land by development projects.
The inadequacies of the Land Law have been evident in disputes regarding compensation for land acquisition relating to several development projects such as the Laos-China railway, Vientiane-Luang Prabang Expressway, and the 450 Year Road.
Unregulated land occupation had been seen to spread in the past 10 years with cases such as the building of dwellings on road reserves, land occupation in forest areas designated for protection, production, and conservation, building of houses and restaurants on the banks of lakes and rivers, and the occupation of land by individuals at camps of defence and security forces and other government organisations.
The complete transfer of government land to private companies at a low price, which did not follow the procedures, and the results ofabuse of legal loopholes and power by some officials to obtain government land had caused tremendous losses of state property.
Meeting participants, including deputy ministers and provincial deputy governors will discuss the action plan for the coming years, particularly implementation of the Party Central Committee’s Resolution No. 26 dated August 2017 on enhancing land management and development.


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