Laos to preserve Bolaven Plateau as green development zone

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times) - The government plans to ensure that the Bolaven Plateau in the southern province of Champassak remains a clean agricultural area and maintains its green culture and tourist attractions in the face of development threats.

According to a government media release on Wednesday, a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith advised the Lao Economic Research Institute, which is in charge of the Bolaven Plateau integrated development plan, to improve the draft of the plan before resubmitting it to the government.

The key points that the cabinet meeting wanted the institute to include in the plan are that any development of the Bolaven Plateau must ensure that its natural beauty is sustained and protected.

The plateau should be the home of organic crop plantations, especially coffee, nature-based tourism, and organic crop processing plants.

While the government wants to encourage real estate development, it says building designs must incorporate Lao architecture, the media release stated.

The cabinet also urged the Lao Economic Research Institute to include in the plateau development plan a restriction on mining, saying the development of green areas should not include mining operations.

The plateau contains valuable mineral deposits including bauxite. A number of mining companies have expressed interest in extracting these minerals but coffee growers and local villagers are against such operations.

The cabinet meeting also approved the drafts of four laws relating to enterprise bankruptcy, film, equities, and gender equality. The government plans to submit these laws to the National Assembly for consideration and approval at the end of this year.

The cabinet was unable to approve the draft of a law on compensation for people and legal entities that are affected by state interventions. The cabinet advised the Ministry of Justice to improve the draft before resubmitting it at the next cabinet meeting.

The cabinet also endorsed the draft of a prime ministerial decree relating to the closure of mine sites and vehicle business administration.

In other areas, the cabinet stressed the need for the relevant ministries and state agencies to pay particular attention to security and social order. The cabinet asked the relevant sectors to address border problems and social issues such as crime, drug trafficking and road accidents.

In relation to the management of economic affairs, the cabinet urged the relevant state agencies to ensure that imported goods are in compliance with the laws and regulations. They must also do more to promote productivity.

The relevant sectors were also instructed to regulate currency exchange and speed up revenue collection to meet the set targets. They must also be alert to and be ready to address threats to farming, such as crop and animal diseases.

The cabinet also demanded that the relevant sectors take stronger measures to tackle the dengue fever outbreak, improve public services, and prepare the necessary resources to host upcoming visits by foreign leaders.