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

Posts Tagged ‘Laos’

15 mining projects see concessions revoked

Source: Vientiane Times,5May,2017

Fifteen mining operations have had their concessions revoked after investors failed to implement their projects as agreed after they were granted concessions by the government.
Speaking at the ongoing ordinary session of the National Assembly last week, Minister of Energy and Mines DrKhammanyInthirath said “Some companies just held [concessions without implementing them] purely in order to resell them.”
The government suspended consideration of new mining projects a few years ago, saying it wanted to take steps to better regulate the mining industry after learning that a number of projects had failed to observe the agreements they had signed with the government.
DrKhammany said his officials began carrying out inspections in 2016 and found that almost 20 mining operations were not in compliance with the agreements and stood to lose their concessions.
The findings were submitted to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, which subsequently annulled the concessions previously awarded to 15 projects.
The fate of other projects that comply poorly with agreements is currently under consideration, DrKhammany added.
As of 2016, some 657 companies had been granted permission to carry out surveys and excavation as part of 942 projects. Of these, 226 companies had been authorised by the central government to undertake 392 projects.
Since 2003, when investment in mining began, until 2016, the sale value of mineral commodities exceeded US$13 billion with almost US$2 billion in taxes and royalties paid to the government, DrKhammany said.
He added that the mining sector had boomed and generated huge revenues from 2011-2016 driven by the spiralling of commodity prices on the world market, especially gold and copper, in 2012. The sale value of mining products from 2011-2016 hit US$8.8 billion with US$1.2 billion in taxes paid. Prior to that, from 2003-2010, the sale value of mining products was just US$4.3 billion with US$688 million paid in taxes.
DrKhammany said the sale value of minerals took a dive in 2016 when commodity prices on the world market slumped, including gold and copper.
In the first nine months of 2016, the sale value was just US$964 million, generating only US$41 million in taxes.
“The sale value [of mineral products] for the whole of 2016 was less than US$100 million. The sale value depends on the market price of minerals,” DrKhammany said.

Gov’t to get tough with dishonest land concession holders

Source: Vientiane Times, April 28, 2017
http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_Govtto.html
The government will use tougher measures to regulate concession projects by withdrawing land if no progress is made on the proposed project, while also pushing for authorities at various levels to participate in the process.
ThatlungSEZ
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith on behalf of the government made the promise yesterday in response to National Assembly (NA) members’ queries concerning issues surrounding land concessions, which were raised at the ongoing debate session.
The government acknowledged that many concession projects have been awarded, but investors often did not fulfill their obligations with regard to the contract and relevant laws. Many acquired land for the purpose of handing it over to other investors, thereby making a profit.
“If an investor who has been given a concession is found not to proceed with the stated project in the time frame agreed, I ask local authorities to actively investigate and report their findings to the government,” Prime Minister Thongloun said.
He urged the relevant ministries to urgently take action when they received a report indicating possible misconduct.
The issue of investors refusing to obey the requests of local authorities was also raised by Assembly members. In response, Mr Thongloun said concession deals and other development project agreements made at the central or local level must be signed off by local authorities.
Also up for discussion was encroachment onto state land by investors in addition to the land area stated in the concession contract.
“In this case, local authorities have the right to use measures directly to prevent encroachment at the first stage before it continues any further. The authorities should not wait for orders from the government,” Mr Thongloun said. “If local authorities are unable to influence the situation, please inform the related sector or ministry so they can deal with the matter,” he added.
Taking possession of land without putting it to good use not only delays the country’s development but denies other developers the opportunity to use land productively.
“If land is handed over and no development takes place, it will be withdrawn. I want the business sector to understand this,” the prime minister said.
“Effective investment and the implementation of development projects that follow the law will help to strengthen the economy,” he added, noting that the government would not allow a monopoly in investment, but supported competition.
Mr Thongloun told Assembly members that the government had carried out a study on the positives and negatives of the Law on Land, saying a lot of shortcomings were uncovered.
The government is improving its policies before submitting them to the Politburo, which is expected to propose a resolution by the Party Central Committee in order to tackle the issues surrounding land use, according to Mr Thongloun.

Regional experts mull solutions to land governance challenges

Vientiane Times 24th February 2016

Experts are seeking to design innovative solutions to land-related challenges in Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam by discussing the experiences of the four Mekong countries. More than 80 people representing over 30 organisations from six countries in South East Asia are taking part in a regional stakeholders’ consultation workshop in Vientiane from February 23-24. The meeting is considering coordinated responses and priority areas for joint collaboration on issues of land governance.

Timber smuggling to Vietnam continues

Vientiane Times, 6 June 2015

More and more wood is being smuggled across the border from Laos and Cambodia to the southwestern boundary of Vietnam, according to a Vietnamese media report on Thursday. Vietnamese smuggling prevention agencies were quoted in the VietNamNet online newspaper as saying they had discovered many consignments of wood illegally imported from the two countries.

Smugglers of wood are busy before rainy season

VietNamNet Bridge, 4 June 2015 

More and more wood is being smuggled across the southwestern border. Smuggling prevention agencies said they had discovered many consignments of wood illegally imported from Laos and Cambodia across the border. 

Eight trucks caught in Vietnam with suspected smuggled timber

Vientiane Times, April 20,2015

Vietnamese traffic police in the central province of Nghe An have confiscated eight Lao-registered trucks allegedly laden with smuggled timber, Vietnam’s local media reported. The fleet was found parked on the roadside on National Highway 7 in Nghe An’s Chuong Duong district on April 7, Vietnam Breaking News reported on Saturday citing the Kien Thuc news website.

Environmental Group Urges Laos to Support Complaint Mechanism

RFA, 31 Dec 2014

An environmental advocacy group has called on the government of Laos to ensure that a Vietnamese state-owned rubber group operating in the country is adhering to the law and upholding the rights of villagers affected by its plantations. Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG), which is majority owned by the Vietnamese government, agreed in July to set up a system through which it resolves issues raised in citizen’s complaints and inquiries concerning two of its plantations in Champasak and Savannakhet provinces within 30 days.

Forest protection vital for carbon control

Vientiane Times, 16 December 2014

As the climate changes, many countries around the world have had to take on greater responsibility for forest protection and management.
Laos is one of the countries working hard on forestry conservation.
The Forestry Department last week held a Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) meeting in Vientiane to encourage the relevant sectors to participate in forest protection. The meeting was chaired by the department Deputy Director General, Mr Khamphay Manivong. The government has established targets for reafforestation set at 65 percent of cover by 2015 and 70 percent by 2020 but it faces severe challenges to reach these targets due to an increasing population and rapid development. Forests are referred to as carbon sinks as they absorb carbon dioxide from and release oxygen into the atmosphere, according to the World Bank’s senior Forestry Specialist, Mr Robert R. Davis.
Every decade since the 1960s global temperatures have been rising, 2012 was the warmest year in recorded history, he said.
Asia is important for REDD (reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation) as about 20 percent of the world’s forests are in Asia and Oceania.
FCPF was launched at the 13th session of the conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bali.
FCPF first began operations in June 2008. There are 47 participating developing countries in REDD which have been selected to join the FCPF (18 in Africa, 18 in Latin America, and 11 in the Asia pacific region).
Thirteen donors or contributors from both the public and private sectors are financially supporting the FCPF in Laos. After the country joined the FCPF it received two grants, US$200,000 for RPP (readiness, preparation and proposal) development implemented during 2009-2010 and US$3.6 million for RPP implementation and REDD+ readiness support. This grant became effective in August this year. The objective of the project is to contribute to Laos’ efforts to design and implement a sound national REDD+ strategy. The FCPF is designed to set the stage for a large-scale system of incentives for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, providing a fresh source of financing for the sustainable use of forest resources and biodiversity conservation and for the more than 1.2 billion people who depend to a varying degree on forests for their livelihood.

Agricultural expansion needed for food security and commerce

Vientiane Times, 12 Dec 2014

Laos plans to produce about 5 million tonnes of rice by 2020 to ensure food security in the country. Throughout the past 39 years, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has spent a lot of its budget investing in the generation of food produce as a means of creating food security in the country.

The government has focused on rice as the priority food of the nation, encouraging farmers to grow different types of cash crops, livestock development and fish breeding according to ministry reports.

Laos needs committee to manage rubber pricing

Vientiane Times, 06 Dec 2014

The price of rubber in Laos will continue to suffer as the country has not yet established a national committee for management of the commodity or an association for price negotiation. The major regional markets still depend on Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia because these countries have large numbers of rubber plantations and so regional pricing is largely based on them, the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute Director, Dr. Bounthong Bouahom told Vientiane Times yesterday.

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