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

NA member asks for clearer development objectives

Vientiane Times, 23rd November 2018

Source: http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/freeContent/FreeConten_NA_275.php

The government must decide whether it wants to encourage industries other than tourism in a certain area, and should not allow the growth of industries that do not sustain local people’s livelihoods.
A National Assembly (NA) member from Khammuan province, Mr Bounpanh Duanglaty, made the comments when speaking about the government’s future socio-economic development plan. Addressing the ongoing debate session, he spoke about the abundance of natural beauty in his province, which he said was suitable for the development of tourism.
As an example of the success of tourism in the province, Mr Bounpanh cited the development of the area around Konglor cave, which he said had made a big change to the lives of local people. Formerly, many people made a living from slash and burn cultivation but now they were engaged in tourism-related services.
The area is now filled with guesthouses and restaurants and the village chief and many other people can communicate with visitors in basic English.
Mr Bounpanh said he was not against development projects that might directly or indirectly contribute to tourism, but he disagreed with the authorisation of projects that harmed the environment and affected people’s livelihoods.
He complained about some individuals and private companies occupying land in Khammuan province, saying they limited the amount of land on which people could grow crops and raise livestock.
“It should be made clear which areas are to be left untouched and which areas can be allocated for industrial plants,” he said.
“Land that has mountains, forests and rivers and was designated for tourism activities has seen factories built close by,” he added.
He asked for a review of the benefits to Laos gained from the cement industry, saying that Khammuan was home to many cement factories which had an undesirable impact on nature through the extraction of raw materials.
He said areas of natural beauty should be preserved for tourism, adding that this was a more sustainable industry than cement and other businesses.
Tourism ranks second after mining in terms of income generation for the nation.
Mr Bounpanh stressed that the government should consider giving authorisation to projects that benefit all three parties – the government, investors, and local people.

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