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New decree strengthens environment fund

A new government decree on a key environmental fund will help bolster fundraising for the protection of environment across the country, sources say.

An official from the Environment Protection Fund (EPF) Mr Vithoun Inthavong discussed his expectations speaking with Vientiane Times yesterday about the recent government issuance of the decree.

“We have the new decree with clearer reference to mobilising, managing, and utilising the fund than in the past and we hope more funds will be raised for this purpose,” he said.

The EPF was established in the middle of 2005 as an independent, self-financed and self- managed organisation under the law and the organisation's internal regulation.

Contributors to the fund were mainly business operators in the energy and mining sector, who have also been the largest consumers of the country's natural resources and have had the greatest environmental impact.

Mr Vithoun, an Assistant to the EPF Director, said that the EPF activities under the old decree (Prime Minister Decree No.146 dated June 6, 2005) faced some challenges and difficulties as not all the business operators in each sector had been fulfilling their obligations to the measures of environment protection laid out by the fund.

Besides this, he added that the unsystematic accounting system within the EPFmade for an obstacle in using the fund as a financial resource.

“Some business operators or other contributors made contributions but they were not always certified. This was another obstacle to using the money given to the fund,” Mr Vithoun said.

Following the new decree, the EPF is under the supervision of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment with the Minister as President of the fund's Executive Board.

Regarding the differences from the old decree, the newly amended decree more clearly defines the management and use of the fund following the principles of centralisation and consensus under a State budget system along with principles of economy and effectiveness.

All earnings and expenses will need to be made through the accounting system of the National Treasury and following the annual expenditure plan; an audit will take place regularly.

Under the new decree (Government Decree No.94 dated March 8, 2017) the funding sources for the EPF will be the State budget, domestic and foreign assistance, investment projects, business operators and individuals as well as any interest or dividends from the fund's investments.

Th e funding resources from the State budget and the environment protection fees under any relevant concession agreements will be collected while complying with the Law on Electricity, Law on Mineral Resources, and other related laws.

The EPF has received about US$25 million in total to finance environmental protection in the past 12 years. Of that value, US$12.9 million was a grant from the World Bank while US$5.7 came from the Asian Development Bank.

Electric power projects contributed a total of US$600,000 while mining projects contributed another US$2.8 million to the fund.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update April 20, 2017)

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