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Loss of State-owned land affecting national development

Inspection authorities are concerned about State land that has been unlawfully sold by some district and village authorities over the past decades.
The loss of State-owned land will make it difficult for the government to develop mega projects, including infrastructure and public spaces, since many of the plots that have been sold have either been occupied or taken over by individuals and entrepreneurs.
Without having State land to use, the government will need to spend more in the future to compensate people who have to move in order to free up land for development projects in inhabited areas.
The Party Central Committee’s Inspection Committee revealed the extent of the loss of State land at its annual meeting in Vientiane last week, and pledged to retrieve this land for the State.
According to the Inspection Committee’s report, more than 670 hectares of community land and land belonging to temples was illegally sold by district and village authorities in 2017, resulting in the loss of 12 billion kip.
Under the Land Law, district and village authorities do not have the right to sell State land because it is the property of the nation and people.
District and village authorities also carried out exchange deals with private companies by allowing them to build roads and buildings in exchange for State-owned land.
These projects meant the government lost its advantage because of the lack of evaluations, transparency and involvement of the relevant sectors.
In 2017 alone, the Inspection Committee estimated that losses from such schemes were as high as 262 billion kip.
Critics say all State land must be provided with a land title to prevent individuals from occupying or owning this land.
In the absence of a land title, district and village authorities will try to sell State land for their own benefit, and there should be much harsher penalties for those who approve such sales.
A land official from the Vientiane Department of Natural Resources and Environment, who asked not to be named, told Vientiane Times last week that several such cases had been reported in the capital over the past few years.
A team from the department will now investigate land issues brought to its attention by local people.
There should be mechanisms to prevent senior officials from owning large tracts of land so that more plots can be used for commercial activities and development projects.
Land disputes began occurring in Laos with the inflow of foreign direct investment over the past few decades, driving up the price of land in most provinces.

Some people seized State land to grow crops or plant trees, including rubber, or to sell to other people.

By SomsackPongkhao
(Latest Update
March 21,
2018)


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