Vientiane Times: December 18, 2017
Posts Tagged ‘National Assembly’
Source: Phouthan Pasaxon Newspaper, Issue 1st – 4th October 2017
(NA) To strengthen deep understanding on Land and Natural Resource Management, Legislative Research Institute of National Assembly organized workshop on “Knowledge and Experience Sharing with the National Assembly/Provincial People councils’ members on Land and Natural Resource Management” at International Convention Training Center (ICTC), Vientiane from 28-29 October 2017. The workshop was chaired by Dr Khampheuy Panmalaythong, the president of Legislative Research Institute of National Assembly, Laos. There were totally 153 participants from National Assembly’s members, Provincial People Assembly ’ members, President – Vice president of the NA committees, President -Vice president of different departments, centers, officials from National Assembly, The acting director general of Legislation Department from Ministry National Resource and Environment, representatives of relevant ministries, representatives from Village Focus International (VFI), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Community Association for Mobilizing Knowledge in Development (CAMKID)/Oxfam attended this workshop.
Source: Vientiane Times, May 30, 2017
Community land which has been handed over by village authorities to investors should be all taken back as collective property because the actions of local authorities are against the law.
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Mr Sommad Pholsena tabled this direction in debate at the recent session of the National Assembly (NA).
The assembly quizzed the government about the spread of village authorities giving community land to investors, individuals, companies and organisations for rent or granted in exchange for community roads or other infrastructure facilities.
“I would like to propose the National Assembly as well as Local People’s Assemblies annul the land authorisations made by village authorities,” Mr Sommad said. He referred to the Land Law, which he said gave clear stipulation on the allocation of agricultural land use rights.“The district or municipal administration is in charge of considering and approving the allocation of land use rights for agricultural land under its management to individuals and organisations to use by issuing land certificates to them,” the minister stated from article No.18 of the law.
“These land certificates are valid for three years. During this period, if land has been used in conformity with objectives and regulations, and if there is no objection or claim, or those claims have already been settled, then the individuals and organisations have the right to apply to the land management authorities at the provincial or city level for the issuance of a land title for long-term use rights,” he continued reading the stipulation in the law.
Mr Sommad also highlighted the spread of offences made against stipulations in the law regarding allocation of forest land use rights, use of land around bodies of water, and determining the scope of construction land use rights.
He promised to inspect the offences related to the responsibilities of his ministry such as the issuance of land titles. In an example, he spoke about village chiefs selling community land to private companies or individuals, who later received land titles from the ministry.
Such issuance of land titles would include cases when private companies or individuals wanted to use the land to secure investment finance, according to the minister. He asked NA members and members of provincial people’s councils to keep a close eye on these activities and inform the ministry about any related offences.
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.
Source: Vientiane Times, April 28, 2017
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.
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.
Vientiane Times, August 25, 2016
Vientiane Times, 25 April 2015.
A senior official at the National Assembly (NA) has asserted that the content of the draft National Land Policy has no problems, despite the fact it has been put on hold and has not been yet approved by the NA. The drafted policy, which stipulates reasonable compensation based on market prices whenever people’s lands are affected by investment projects, was submitted to the NA’s fifth ordinary session in July 2013 for debate. But it was not approved by the then session.
Vientiane Times, April 21, 2015
Policymakers are sounding out opinions from various sectors in society and those good and reasonable opinions will be taken into account into the draft of the amended constitution. The national committee in charge of amending the constitution has made a public announcement welcoming public opinions and comment on the proposed amendments.
Vientiane Times, 17 Jan 2015
Accurate information and evidence are essential for bringing to justice illegal loggers and wood traders, and forestry authorities are calling on the public to help in this matter. Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Department of Forest Inspection, Mr Paphakone Vongxay, recently called for public support when responding to questions on illegal logging put to the National Assembly through telephone hotline calls.
“It would be better if local residents refrain from building property anywhere close to the proposed railway as this will create extra complications with regard to the compensation process,” Laos-China Railway Project Manager Dr Koung Souk-aloun said.