Chinese company assists development efforts in Laos
VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - A Chinese company which is keen to develop the Khonphapheng Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in southern Laos has granted US$1 million for the development of Champassak province.
The Deputy Governor of Champassak province, Mr Buasone Vongsongkhone, told Vientiane Times on Tuesday that the assistance has shown that the Chinese firm, Guangdong Yellow River Industry Group Company Limited, is keen on investing in the province.
“The company told us that they want to be part of the development of our province as they reaffirmed that they will invest in the Khonphapheng Special Economic Zone,” he said.
The grant of US$1 million will be used to finance poverty reduction-related programmes in the province. The grant reflects the company’s commitment to develop the area where they are investing, the deputy governor said.
The Lao government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese company to conduct a feasibility study on developing the US$10-billion Khonphapheng SEZ in Champassak province in June.
Potential developments include hotels, restaurants, a shopping centre, development of tourism sites and tourism activities as well as tourism-related businesses. The project is aimed at boosting economic growth and generating jobs for the local people.
Guangdong Yellow River Industry Group Company is carrying out a project survey and design, which should be completed this month, Mr Buasone said.
“If the company completes the project survey and design as planned, we can sign the concession agreement within this month. We are waiting for the outcome of the survey from the company,” he said.
Provincial authorities have allocated more than 7,000 hectares for the development of the planned SEZ, which would be divided into four zones: Zone A (480 hectares), Zone B (797 hectares), Zone C (2,120 hectares) and Zone D (3,678 hectares).
If the project progresses as planned, it will be the largest development project in the province and in Laos.
The Provincial Governor, Dr Bounthong Divixay, told Lao media in October that the Khonphapheng waterfall and surrounding areas will be transformed into a modern town which will incorporate an airport, shopping centre, roads and tourism-related activities and services.
The Chinese company anticipates that 700,000 to 800,000 people will live in the new town and about 1.2 million tourists will visit the zone annually. “The project will create a new image for our province among international visitors,” he said.
The Chinese company is also committed to paying compensation worth US$6.5 million to businesses that hold tourism services concessions at Khonphapheng waterfall.
Khonphapheng, located in Khong district, is one of the 10 widest waterfalls in the world with a width of 10,783 metres.
The Si Phan Don (4000 Islands) area will showcase the Khonphapheng waterfall, which is considered one of the most interesting tourism attractions in southern Laos.
The region also has the ruins of a pier and the old bridge between Dondet and Donkhone, as well as the freshwater dolphins in the Mekong River.