Land Info Working Group
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Banana exports drop after govt tightens regulations on growers

Source: Vientiane Times, August 25, 2017

http://vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_Banana.htm

The export value of bananas in the first six months (Q1 and Q2) of this year decreased compared to the same period last year and is expected to decline further.

The drop in exports comes after the government called a halt to the establishment of large scale banana plantations in a bid to prevent environmental impacts, with local authorities also taking stricter action against banana farms. Laos earned almost US$125 million from banana exports in Q1 and Q2 this year, while last year’s figure for the same period was over US$137.5 million, according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Govt to steam ahead with railway compensation

Source: Vientiane Times, August 23, 2017

http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_Govt.htm

The government is looking to speed up compensation for people who will lose land or other property to make way for the Laos-China railway, asking the National Assembly (NA) to extend support in this regard.

Minister of Public Works and Transport Dr Bounchanh Sinthavong called for the NA to encourage provincial and Vientiane administrations as well as provincial and Vientiane People’s councils to approve unit prices for the compensation calculated by authorities in charge.

Govt officials discuss land management and development

Source: Vientiane Times, August 16, 2017

http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_Govt.htm

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is focusing on land management and development around the country with aims to better manage land and prevent spread out land use.

Over the past year, land use was still extravagant because the master plan of national land management is not finished yet.

Meanwhile, the price of land is continuing to rise, especially land in the city areas.

It’s causing an issue related to land management and use.

NA, Govt discuss development impacts, compensation

Source: Vientiane Times, August 16, 2017

http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_NA.htm

The impacts on residents of government-approved development projects and concession projects by domestic and foreign investors were on the top of the agenda for discussion between National Assembly (NA) and government at a joint meeting yesterday.

NA President Pany Yathotou, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, NA Committees chairs and ministers attended the first joint meeting between the NA’s Eighth Legislature and the government held yesterday in Vientiane to discuss the way ahead on addressing development impacts and compensation policy.

PM tells Xieng Khuang to fight corruption, illegal car imports, logging

Source: Vientiane Times, August 11, 2017

http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_PM_185.htm

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 .

Feature: Laos-China railway brings changes to Laos

Source: Xinhua, August 8, 2017. Editor: An
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-08/07/c_136505836.htm
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.

Lao gov’t approve Chinese company to conduct SEZ feasibility study

Source: Xinhua, August 2, 2017. Editor: Zhou Xin
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-08/02/c_136491811.htm
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).

Tunnelling ahead as Laos-China railway proceeds on track

Source: Vientiane Times, July 15, 2017
http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_Tunnelling_162.htm
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.

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