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Ministry slow to tackle land-related issues

More than 30 incidents of public concern in relation to natural resources and the environment have yet to be addressed but the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has promised to do its best to seek solutions.
A ministry official, Mr Viraphol Nuansengsy, relayed this information last week at the first meeting of the government committee responsible for public hotlines.
The ministry set up its 1514 hotline number in late 2016 following the launch of the scheme by the Prime Minister’s Office. The Inspection Department is responsible for hotline calls and public complaints made to the ministry through other channels.
Mr Viraphol said the ministry received 44 complaints from members of the public in the past one or more years, of which 36 concerned land issues. The complaints were mainly related to compensation for land lost to concession projects, and land price estimates.
Bad smells, especially from pig farms, and polluted banana plantations were also raised by the public as environmental problems.
The ministry official said 11 cases had been addressed, of which nine were related to land and two were environmental, adding that the ministry was looking into the remaining 33 cases.
Mr Viraphol said many cases were still outstanding because information and evidence were being collected and this would take time as the cases also involved other sectors.
The ministry also received 60 other queries raised by callers to the 156 hotline of the National Assembly, while five complaints were passed on by the Prime Minister’s Office.
The majority of callers raised concerns about land-related issues.
Aside from the 1514 hotline, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has installed comment boxes at various places in Vientiane.
These can be found at the ministry itself, at the ministry’s old building at the Prime Minister’s Office, the northern and southern bus stations, Department of Metrology and Hydrology, Vientiane Department of Natural Resources and Environment, and at the Lao Front for National Development.
Land issues topped concerns raised by members of the public to the National Assembly and have been debated by Assembly members for many years.
Loopholes in the Land Law have caused disputes concerning compensation and huge losses to state revenue arising from irregular land deals. At the recent national meeting concerning land, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith urged the ministry to accelerate amendments to the Land Law and to close loopholes.
 To speed up its work, the ministry has introduced the slogan “Doing Best, Doing Fast, and Doing More under the Law”.

By Somxay Sengdara
(Latest Update
March 1,

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