Budget approval urgently needed for Laos-China railway

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Lao authorities in charge have called for urgent approval of a budget of 500 billion kip for Laos’ 2018 contribution to the construction of the Laos-China railway.

Deputy Minister of Public Works and Transport, Mr Lattanamany Khounnivong, who is also Chairman of the Laos-China Railway Construction Project Management Committee, made the request at a meeting held on Friday.

The meeting was chaired by Minister of Public Works and Transport, Dr Bounchanh Sinthavong, who is Chairman of the Leading Committee for the Laos-China Railway Construction Project.

More than 436 billion kip of the proposed budget will be Laos’ 2018 contribution to the 30-70 Laos-China Railway Project joint venture, in which total investment amounts to US$5.986 billion.

The remaining more than 63 billion kip will be used for the project’s administration costs.

Through the meeting, Mr Lattanamany called for the Ministry of Finance to urgently approve the budget so that construction could proceed unhindered.

In his briefing, the deputy minister said construction of the railway was now 26.5 percent complete.

As of March, the detailed railway corridor has been fully defined with the railway’s total length calculated at 409 kilometres.

The area reserved for the railway has been earmarked except for the required 112 hectares for construction of the Nateuy goods and passenger railway stations in Luang Namtha province.

Mr Lattanamany recommended that the province identify and define this area.

He told the meeting that four provinces have now approved compensation rates, paving the way for payment.

Provincial People’s Councils in Luang Namtha, Oudomxay, Luang Prabang and Vientiane provinces have approved compensation rates. Only Vientiane has not yet endorsed the compensation rate.

Luang Prabang has already issued a decision on compensation payouts. Luang Namtha is about to issue a decision, while Oudomxay is revising the compensation issue in line with recommendations made by the Provincial People’s Council before issuing a decision. Vientiane province has also approved the rate.

Although a decision has been issued, Luang Prabang is seeking approval from the government before paying any compensation, Director of the province’s Public Works and Transport Department, Mr Fasanan Thammavong, said.

“We have informed villagers of the compensation rates and have reached an agreement with them. They are now happy,” he told Vientiane Times yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Vientiane administration and its People’s Council need to work together to seek common ground on the rate of compensation, while the authorities in charge are checking statistics regarding the properties affected, according to Mr Lattanamany.

Authorities in charge have recommended that villagers open accounts at the Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public (BCEL) so that compensation awards can be transferred to them directly.

The authorities are seeking approval for their recommendation from higher authorities, Mr Lattanamany said.

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