Progress made on SEZ in Luang Prabang
The developer of a US$1.2 billion special economic zone (SEZ) in Luang Prabang province is in the process of demarcating the project site and building an access road.
The project, which is being developed by the Phousy Group, will comprise an area of 4,850 hectares in the districts of Luang Prabang and Chomphet with a concession period of 99 years.
Deputy Director of the Luang Prabang provincial Department of Planning and Investment, Mr Bounsom Thatsavong, told Vientiane Times on Friday that parts of the site overlap the World Heritage Site, which will need to be re-determined and demarcated.
He was unable to confirm when construction would begin and whether funding had been sourced.
Local authorities and the developer are explaining the project to local residents affected by the SEZ, to make sure they understand its main objectives.
Deputy Prime Minister Mr Sonexay Siphandone last week visited the project site during a trip to the northern provinces.
Mr Sonexay saw firsthand the extent of development so far and where a bridge will be built across the Mekong to link the three zones incorporated in the SEZ.
In addition, the developer is formulating plans for project activities and setting up an executive board while searching for businesses to invest in the zone.
The government signed an agreement with the Phousy Group, allowing the company to establish this special economic zone in Luang Prabang province.
Authorities said the SEZ would create a new town in the suburbs of the provincial capital, while ensuring the town's cultural integrity is preserved.
Designed as a new town, the zone will feature a 23-storey building, schools, hospitals, shopping centre, bank, hotels, restaurants, and residences for older people. Areas for organic vegetable plots are also planned.
A one-stop operating service will be introduced for businesses in the zone to ensure transparency and accountability and to facilitate development.
Luang Prabang is home to Laos' first World Heritage Site and is considered a magnet for regional and international tourists.
The government believes the new zone will help to boost economic growth in the province and generate job opportunities for local people.
People in the area currently use ferries to cross the Mekong between the town of Luang Prabang and Chomphet district for the purposes of travel and business.
The zone will be located about 10km outside Luang Prabang town centre with another site in Chomphet district on the other side of the Mekong River.
The developer will build a bridge across the river along with roads, electricity, water supply and other amenities to attract businesses to the area.
By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update January 23, 2017)