Lao Economy

Govt Pledges Fairer Land Compensation

Source: Vientiane Times

The government has pledged to offer fairer compensation for properties of local people impacted and displaced by domestic and foreign investment projects.

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith told the National Assembly (NA)’s ongoing fourth Ordinary Session on Monday that the government will form national and local committees in-charge of negotiating the compensation.

The move to establish the committees is among seven fundamental works the government will undertake in 2018 to drive socio-economic development that the prime minister presented to the session.

The committees will be chaired by representatives from the Lao Front for National Construction.
Representatives from the NA, provincial People’s Council and Mass Organisations will be appointed as members of the committees.

“The committees are mandated to negotiate with affected people and correctly define the compensation method for just compensation,” Prime Minister Thongloun told the session, which will run till November 17.

Once they are established, the committees will be the first-ever bodies comprising representatives from many such sectors, including the Lao Front for National Construction and the NA, which represents the rights and interests of the people.

Previously, the negotiation of compensation and cost was carried out and defined by authorities in-charge of the investment projects.

In some cases, reports had emerged that villagers whose lands and other properties were affected by investment projects had received low compensation.

The Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Souphanh Keomixay, told the first meeting of the newly established central and provincial committees for investment promotion and management last month that some land disputes remain unresolved.

He explained that some owners of land use rights disagreed with and did not accept the compensation for their land impacted by investment projects on the ground that the compensation was low.

A recent report from Vientiane authorities suggested that 122 families did not accept compensation for 167 plots of land that were affected by the construction of the 450 Year Road in the capital city.

Low compensation was alleged as the cause, and the villagers refused to accept the amount offered to them.

The reported low compensation came despite the fact that the government has a policy in place for fair compensation.

According to a Prime Ministerial Decree on Compensation and Resettlement for People Affected by Development Projects, issued on April 5, 2016, compensation offered to local villagers affected by a development project must ensure that they enjoy better living conditions or at least have the equivalent access to facilities as before they were displaced.

Compensation and resettlement must be carried out in a just, fair and open manner with the involvement of the project developer, villagers, state officials and other relevant parties, according to the decree.