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

Posts Tagged ‘National Assembly’

No concessions without consent, working group says

Vientiane Times, 4 November 2014
The national land regulations, including the National Land Policy and Land Law must be explicit in regulating and how and when land can be expropriated and it should be only made possible for public purposes.
 The statement was one of the key messages the Land Sub-sector Working Group (LSSWG) conveyed to the National Resources and Environment Sector Working Group (NRESWG) during preparations for the upcoming Round Table Implementation Meeting to be held in Vientiane this month.
The message was disseminated at the sector working group held yesterday in Vientiane, where Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Ms Bounkham Vorachit, Country Manager of the World Bank Ms Sally Birmingham and Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Laos Michael Grau were in attendance. The LSSWG gave the recommendation concerning the land tenure security for Lao citizens and protection of the investments made in the country.
 Land issues have been longstanding in Laos for many years, while the National Land Policy which the government has been drafting for years was not approved despite having been brought for discussion at sector working group meetings and tabled at the National Assembly on numerous occasions.
Land concessions and the compensation paid to those who lose their land were the most frequently raised land issues with the public expressing its opinion that compensation should be paid at market rates.
 As the result of its work presented at the meeting held on October 14, the land issues sub-sector working group strongly recommended that legislation must make clear that land ownership or land use rights can only be revoked with the free, prior, and informed consent of the affected land rights holders.
 However, an exemption will be made for land resumptions that directly and primarily benefit the general public and provided that the affected parties receive, full, fair, and prior compensation.In addition, this must be applied to both individually and communally held land, be it land under customary ownership or with a formal title.
 Private purpose land use transfers on communal lands shall only be implemented if agreed upon by consent of a minimum of two-thirds (but ideally 80 percent) majority of all affected land use rights holders.
 The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has been assigned as the government’s secretariat on natural resources and the environment and thereby oversees the NRESWG under the government round table meeting process. At the meeting yesterday, NRESWG joined with development partners to review the draft vision towards 2030 for the natural resources and environment sector and the plan for the period from 2016 to 2020 before submitting them to the round table process and incorporation into the National Socio-Economic Plan for the next five years.

Official: villagers given compensation in line with regulations

Vientiane Times, 29 August 2014

Villagers whose land was used to build a casino and airport in the northwestern province of Bokeo have been awarded full compensation in accordance with the government’s policy, senior government officials have confirmed. Deputy Director General of the Land Administration Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr Anothai Chanthalasy made the comment at a press conference held recently at the National Assembly after the issue was raised through the telephone hotline set up during the Assembly’s ordinary session.

NA identifies problems in natural resource sector

Vientiane Times, 23 August 2014

The National Assembly (NA) has highlighted that many foreign investment projects working in the natural resource sector are not operating in accordance with the law and NA officials need to educate themselves on the issues to better address problems with projects. Vice Chairperson of the NA Economic, Planning and Finance Committee Dr Bouakham Thippavong was addressing a training workshop on the “Process of National Planning, Public and Private Investment Approvals and Environmental and Social Impact Assessments” in Vientiane last week.

Cross border timber smuggling reported in Xieng Khuang

Vientiane Times, 20 August 2014

Vietnamese nationals have been felling trees illegally in Lao territory, with clandestine logging reportedly taking place in Xieng Khuang province which shares a border with Vietnam’s Nghe An province. Lao government officials reported that the Vietnamese have used slings to transfer the logs they cut in remote Lao forest areas back to Vietnam, said Deputy Director General of the Department of Forest Inspection under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Mr Thongphanh Ratanalangsy.

Xekong rubber project: some affected villagers refuse relocation

Vientiane Times, 13 August 2014

Some 38 families affected by a rubber plantation project in southern Xekong province have refused to move to a newly-developed community arranged for them, a senior government official told media last week. The 38 families claim that land in the area allocated to them is not fertile for cultivation.

But technical officials have confirmed that up to 80 percent of the entire area prepared for the newcomers is arable and good for cultivation, Deputy Director General of the Land Administration Department under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr Anothai Chanthalasy told a press conference recently.

Khammuan residents accuse project of unfair compensation

Vientiane Times, 6 August 2014

A resident of Khammuan province in central Laos has accused Phoukhiew Specific Economic Zone Project of providing unfair compensation to villagers who lost houses and land to make way for the project. However a senior government official has confirmed that the compensation was given in accordance with accepted principles.

The resident raised the issue through the hotline of the National Assembly (NA)’s ordinary session that ended recently, calling for the NA to inspect the issue. The resident stated that the private investment project has provided only residential lands but lands for cultivation activities were not provided as part of the compensation package.

Village authorities illegally turn state land into capital

Vientiane Times, 5 August 2014

Investigations are underway after allegations were made against Sivilay village authorities accusing them of illegally turning state land into capital. Deputy Director General of the Land Management Department under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr Anothai Chanthalasy, said officials would investigate the matter immediately.

If the allegations prove to be true, the authorities from the village in Xaythany district of Vientiane will be charged according to the law. Mr Anothai made the decision in response to an inquiry raised by a resident of the district via the National Assembly’s (NA) ordinary session hotline.

LFNC outlines public complaints

Vientiane Times, 29 July 2014

Members of the public urge the National Assembly (NA) to enhance its role in regard to issues such as illegal mining, illegal logging, development discrepancies and the implementation of development plans by local administrations. Vice President of the Lao Front for National Construction (LFNC) Mr Tong Yerthor outlined the public’s concerns when commenting on the NA’s works at the conclusion of the seventh ordinary session last Friday.

NA: Govt needs to work harder on forest management, conservation

Vientiane Times, 16 July 2014

Members of the National Assembly (NA) have asked the government to work harder to manage, protect and conserve Lao forests in an effort to increase forest coverage to 65 percent by 2015 and 70 percent by 2020 as planned. The members made the comments this week during the ongoing ordinary session of the NA following a presentation by the government on its initiative to manage, protect and conserve forests, which were categorised into three types. These three categories are protected forest, conservation forest and production forest in order to ease its management effort.

NA debates amendments to Law on Handling Petitions

Vientiane Times, 15 July 2014

Law makers have debated amendments to the Law on Handling Petitions in a move to try and improve measures of redress to which members of the public can resort if they are adversely affected by administrative decisions. The Law on Handling Petitions was promulgated eight years ago to give guidance in handling petitions and complaints about decisions made by various authorities.

The law gives members of the public legal rights to submit petitions to relevant bodies for re-consideration or investigation of cases or decisions if they feel they were not ruled on correctly or they did not receive justice from the previous judgment.

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