By Times reporter
Vientiane, Laos, August 17, 2017
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.
“There are some problems in need of addressing in the management of government development projects and concession projects to meet the primary planned targets identified in the socio-economic development plan and budget plan for 2017,” Ms Pany said in her opening remarks.
Social issues impacting on the interests of numerous people were also noted by the NA president.
Speaking at the meeting, Prime Minister Thongloun said the issue of compensation was significant, and the government wanted to learn more about the people’s opinions the NA had collated.
“The major purpose of compensation is maintaining the standard and living condition of people or making their lives better,” he added.
According to a report from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, there were many examples of concession holders performing well in project implementation, including compensating those impacted.
The ministry raised Theun Hinboun Power Company Expansion Project as an example of an investor with good performance.
The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment said the construction of the project began after the relocation of impacted residents was complete with the arrangement of new dwellings and land for the people to a suitable and agreed standard.
In the case of Don Chan Place Hotel, ownership including individual land titles to 800 square metres was offered for each relocated family.
Other projects hig hlighted for providing suitable compensation included Nam Theun 2, Xayaboury dam, Hongsa Lignite, That Luang Lake, Long Thanh and Golden Triangle.
The minister said in these cases the concession holders were responsible for the entire compensation, which helped reduce the government burden.
However, there were some companies which did not follow the contract agreements and caused public complaints and criticism about their leadership.
These are especially about some government development projects which did not clarify the compensation or did not have enough funds to fulfil the necessary recompense.
According to a report from the NA’s Standing Committee, the construction of Luang Prabang International Airport had impacted around 350 families on 350 hectares.
Around US$7.8 million was the amount of the total compensation, of which 74 percent has been paid.
The 450 Road Project has impacted on 442 families and 536 land plots (5 plots of which are public land), which have a total area at 290 hectares with around 190 hectares of Dongphosy conservation forest impacted by the project.
Compensation was valued at around 32 billion kip or 108 million kip per hectare, or around 15,000-500,000 kip per square metre.
The sale price of the land is around 984,000 to 1,230,000 per square metre.
The Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment has proposed that permission to commence projects should be awarded only in the case of projects with completed social and environmental impact assessments and fair compensation.
The ministry also proposed for increasing tariff to the land plots that would require high compensation, while compensation price unit should be assessed counting on the principles of specification and location, the use and quality of the land and the level of socio-economic development in each locality.