August 11th, 2017
Source: Vientiane Times, August 11, 2017
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has directed the leadership of Xieng Khuang province to intensify the fight against corruption, illegal logging and drug smuggling.
The premier issued the directive during talks with top provincial officials on Wednesday as part of his two-day working tour to the northern province.
�The Prime Minister underlined the need to pay more attention to addressing illicit drug smuggling, illegal logging and corruption,� the Deputy Head of the provincial Administrative Office, Mr Viengthong Bounthaphone, told Vientiane Times .
August 8th, 2017
Source: Xinhua, August 8, 2017. Editor: An
VIENTIANE, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) — In northern and central Laos, mountains seem to reign the area where population is scarce. There was almost nothing but primeval forests and traces of slash-and-burn cultivation left by mountainous residents.
However, since December 2016, within half a year since the beginning of construction of China-Laos railway, the area has been witnessing massive changes.
China-Laos railway starts from the Mohan-Moten border area between the two countries, running over 400 km to Lao capital Vientiane with designed operating speed of 160 km per hour. Over 60 percent of the route are bridges and tunnels.
Construction of the railway is scheduled to be completed in five years with investment of some 37.4 billion Chinese yuan (5.56 billion U.S. dollars). This is the biggest investment project of China in Laos so far.
Being the first overseas route connecting with the railway system in China using Chinese technology and equipment, China-Laos railway is a major strategic project which was reached and promoted by top leaders of the two countries, a major project in infrastructure interconnectivity between China and neighboring countries, and a major project in implementing the Belt and Road Initiative.
Ground-breaking ceremony of the railway was held in December 2015, and the construction of the whole route officially started a year later.
August 7th, 2017
Source: Xinhua, August 2, 2017. Editor: Zhou Xin
VIENTIANE, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) — Lao government has given the green light for a Chinese company to conduct a feasibility study on developing the Khonphapheng Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in southern Laos’ Champassak province, local media reported on Tuesday.
The Chinese company had informed authorities that it wants to invest 10 billion U.S. dollars to develop the SEZ, some 580 km south of capital Vientiane, the Deputy Governor of Champassak, Buasone Vongsongkhone told Lao state-run media Vientiane Times.
If the project is realized, it will become the largest investment venture in Champassak province and potentially the country.
A memorandum of understanding was recently signed between the government and the Chinese company, Guangdong Yellow River Industrial Group, in Vientiane, Vientiane Times online reported Tuesday. The move will allow the company to conduct a feasibility study for this project as well as project designs and other activities within six months.
“If the study is positive, we can move forward on a concession agreement which will allow the company to develop the project,” Buasone said on Monday.
Khonphapheng waterfall and the surrounding area are designated for development as a new town that will focus on tourism.
The Chinese company’s study will identify business activities and tourism facilities to facilitate the growth of tourism in Laos. This would include hotels, restaurants, a trade center and other tourism-related businesses.
In July 2015, the government approved the development of Khonphapheng and the surrounding area, also known as Siphandone (the 4,000 islands region), as a new SEZ.
Even before the government’s approval, investors from China, South Korea, Singapore and the Philippines had expressed initial interest in the zone.
Khonphapheng, located in Khong district, is the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia and attracts thousands of visitors every year. Nevertheless, more facilities are needed to attract more tourists.
Officials said the waterfall, close to the Laos-Cambodia border, is a suitable location for developing the SEZ as it would bring more businesses to the area.
The provincial authorities have allocated more than 7,000 hectares for the potential development, which would be divided into four zones: Zone A (480 hectares), Zone B (797 hectares), Zone C (2,120 hectares) and Zone D (3,678 hectares).
July 17th, 2017
Source: Vientiane Times, July 15, 2017
Construction of the Laos-China railway project is progressing as scheduled despite some work requiring a pause due to the rainy season, officials in charge said.
Work on boring tunnels is carrying on, project coordinator for Luang Namtha province Mr Chanthachone Keolakhone told Vientiane Times via telephone on Wednesday.
Mr Chanthachone said Lao and Chinese officials had worked hard to bore tunnel entrances before the rainy season so that rainfall would not delay construction.
Naturally, work inside the tunnels can be carried out without little regard to weather conditions outside.
Mr Chanthachone said that all three tunnels are being bored with the Boten Tunnel having progressed the furthest at more than 120 metres.
The Teentok Tunnel is gathering steam at 45 metres in length to date.
The Laos-China Friendship Tunnel, crossing the Laos-China border has seen more than 55 metres of progress thus far.
Mr Chanthachone said construction of bridges and roads related to the project are now on pause until rains end.
Construction may not meet the standards if we continue to work due to the rainfall, he said.
In particular, the preparations to drill the foundations for a bridge connecting Luang Namtha and Oudomxay provinces had to be halted.
In Oudomxay province, the project coordinator Mr Phonpadith Phommakit told Vientiane Times on Wednesday that work on around 34 tunnels is still ongoing.
Currently, some nine of 34 tunnels have been bored and are on now track, while some works of roads and bridges are also on pause due to the rainfall.
In Vientiane, project coordinator Mr Souneth Luangsouphom said officials have continued to remove barriers and to develop areas for the construction since the project began in December last year.
At present, Chinese contractors had already developed a 15 km stretch in preparation for construction to date, he said.
A 7km-long bridge from Dongxiengdy to Nakhoun villages in Naxaithong district will be constructed after the seasonal rainfalls conclude, he said.
The planned 417-km railway to connect Vientiane to the Chinese border traverses the provinces of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Luang Namtha passing through 75 tunnels with a combined length of 197.83km.
The project has a total investment of 40 billion Chinese yuan (about US$6 billion), 70 percent of which comes from China, with 30 percent from Laos.
The project set to be completed by 2021 is seen to mark a significant milestone in the socio-economic and cooperation strategies of the two countries.
The project is linked to the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative proffered by Chinese President Xi Jinping and is expected to contribute to increased friendly relations and cooperation between the neighbours and Asean as a whole.
The Lao government places great importance on the realisation of the project which is part of a planned regional railway linking southern China to Singapore via Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.
Laos also attached great importance to and is seriously examining opportunities per the One Belt and One Road, which provides clear goals of comprehensive cooperation between countries of the region and contributes to the promotion of a higher level of connectivity in policies, infrastructure, trade and investment, finance, society and culture.
June 22nd, 2017
Source: Vientiane Times, June 21, 2017
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has ordered provincial and district line departments to take actions to address land disputes, unlawful land occupations and related issues.
The order came as increasing numbers of cases involving land issues have emerged in recent years prompting the government to form a taskforce committee to investigate and address the issues.
Deputy Director General of the Ministry’s Land Administration Department Mr AnothaiChanthalasy told Vientiane Times yesterday that the taskforce committee was required to conclude their works and report their outcomes to the government by October.
It was reported previously that the government has told the committee to inspect land concessions and the transfer of land use rights in various cases after learning these issues had been causal factors in disputed cases emerging in recent years.
The committee will also inspect the implementation of the government’s policy to turn assets into capital, which has seen state departments approaching investors to build new offices for them in suburban areas in exchange for usage of the state lands where their old offices were located, generally closer to the city centre. The inspection came as reports emerged that many projects implemented under the turning-asset-into-capital scheme were not properly included in relevant socio-economic development plans thus were not approved by the National Assembly.
Additionally, many of these projects did not undergo open bidding processes in violation of the relevant regulations.
Additionally, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith said recently that a number of fake documents had been produced claiming usage rights of state lands by various individuals and organisations.
The inspection will also find out if local people’s lands have been occupied unlawfully as well cases of the inappropriate occupation of proximate state lands by members of such communities.
MrAnothai said Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, MrSommad Pholsena issued several notices giving guidance on how best to take actions to address these issues.” Authorities in charge will carry out a comprehensive inspection into land issues including the inspection of land registrations,” MrAnothai said.
In his notice issued late last month, MrSommad recommended local people facing land disputes approach district offices in charge to seek solutions in line with the relevant laws and regulations.
The minister also called for the district and provincial authorities to collate submissions made by respondents and take appropriate actions to address the particulars of respective cases based on the law.
For those issues which district and provincial departments are unable to address, the officials are called upon to report to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment or higher authorities to seek guidance and solutions.
Those wanting to submit petitions concerning land disputes to the Ministry’s Land Department directly can do so through its reception desk, its petition box or through the ministry’s hotline No 1514.
MrSommad pledged that the Ministry would work with local concerned authorities to address the submitted issues.
He also told the provincial Natural Resources and Environment departments to report progress made in addressing identified land-related issues to the ministry on a regular basis.
June 17th, 2017
Source: Vientiane Times, June 10, 2017
A number of banana farms in Oudomxay province have ceased operations after their contracts expired following numerous complaints from local residents that their operations were negatively affecting the environment.
The farms are operated by 11 concession holders. Seven companies are still continuing their operations but four companies’ contracts have expired and the authorities will not renew them.
A provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department official, Mr Bounyeun Xayyaven told Vientiane Times yesterday the 11 companies had concessions and rented the land of local residents to operate their banana farms, but four of those companies had ended their work after their contracts expired.
The seven companies that are currently still in business will also cease work when their contracts expire, he said, adding that in each case the investors are returning the land to their owners upon the expiration of their contracts.
Of the remaining companies, some still have three year contracts while others have five year contracts but they must comply with government policy on environmental protection as long as they are still in operation, Mr Bounyeun said.
Last year, the Prime Minister’s Office ordered farms that were preparing to cultivate banana trees to cease work. Companies that own thousands of hectares of banana plantations where trees have already been planted will not be allowed to plant any more after harvesting the crop.
Chinese-owned banana farms are not only found in the north of Laos, there are also hundreds of hectares of bananas under cultivation in Vientiane province and the capital.
According to a National Assembly report in October last year, some provinces are using too many insecticides, pesticides and chemical fertilisers, but this issue did not feature in reports submitted to the Assembly.
Some people became ill and some allegedly died after pesticide was sprayed on farms, but the reports did not say where this had occurred.
There are no bananas grown on Chinese-owned farms for sale in local markets as the farms send all their fruit to China. The bananas are packed in cardboard boxes for immediate shipment to China after they are harvested.
June 16th, 2017
Source: KPL, June 15, 2017
By Phetsamone PHOMMUNY
(KPL) Bolikhamxay authorities have recently announced the shutdown of 17 timber factories and 35 other factories have been ordered to improve their standards within the next six months.
Head of the Bolikhamxay Industry and Commerce Division, Sengaloun Sengaphone said that 35 timber factories must be improved within next six months in line with the Prime Minister’s decree. If they fail to do so, their business operations will also be suspended permanently.
17 timber factories have been shut down due to violation of the Prime Minister’s decree and running in poor condition: wood industry processing factory, Phoudoi-Liengfathong, KL, Sengdao Group, Duangchaleun 2, Duangchaleun 3, Boualy, Mingkhuang, Duanglasy, Phaviengthong, Phoudoi Furniture,Touay-Toun Furniture, Manida, Inthalengsy, Manivong, SLP and Bounyou furniture.
Prime Minister’s Order No. 15 has successfully curbed harmful practices in the forestry sector and timber industry, while restoring public trust in the party and government.
Currently, 67 timber factories are deemed to be legitimate and up to standard, Mr Sengaloun has said, adding that since the Prime Minister’s order No 15, authorities have strictly implemented the order and set up a task force committee to carry out preventive measures on illegal logging and banning illegal wood exports.