The government has given the green light for state agencies to revoke land concession licences held by investors who fail to develop state land in accordance with agreements.
Speaking at a press conference at the end of the cabinet’s monthly meeting on Wednesday, government spokesperson Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher said the meeting approved measures to encourage investors to develop the land for which they had received concessions from the government.
The measures include authorising state agencies to cancel concessions or fine companies that fail to make use of the land in ways they are obliged to under the agreements they signed.
According to a report distributed at the cabinet’s monthly meeting under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, 201 land concession projects on a total area of 81,879 hectares have not made any progress.
The latest move by the government to regulate state land concession projects comes after National Assembly members debated the issue in December and agreed that the government should push concession holders to further their investment activities.
To ensure that concessions issued for the use of state land comply with related laws and policies, the cabinet directed state agencies and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to assess the actual area of the land in question before granting investors the right to use the land.
This is viewed as an attempt to enable the Ministry of Finance to collect land concession fees from project developers, Dr Chaleun said.
According to Dr Chaleun, the cabinet approved a report indicating that 240 land concession projects were causing environmental damage. The cabinet advised the relevant state agencies to work together and ensure that forests in particular were protected from damage by investment projects.
The cabinet also advised state agencies to approve land concession projects in accordance with national and provincial land development master plans approved by the authorities.
Other land-related issues discussed included the sale of time-limited land use rights, and customary land use rights.
Government members also discussed and approved in principle a draft of a prime ministerial decree on a science and technology fund. The cabinet advised that the key focus of the fund should be on research related to economic productivity.
In addition, the resulting research should be widely publicised so that anyone could access the findings and use the information to boost their productivity.
Other key topics discussed included ways to improve the business climate, tax collection, rural area development, and urban planning in Vientiane towards 2030.