Laos NA debates authorisation for power projects dec 2011


December 15, 2011

Vientiane Times

The National Assembly (NA) should maintain the right to authorise electricity projects that have an installation capacity of 100 megawatts or higher, or use at least 10,000 hectares of land, a majority of members agree.

Most of the NA members who participated in the debate on the Electricity Law yesterday expressed their disapproval of a proposed amendment to bypass the need for NA approval for large-scale projects.

If it is a large-scale project, it should be approved by the NA. I agree with this, said a member for Attapeu province, Ms Phonemany Khienxayavong.

The law was previously amended in 2008, to require NA approval for all future major electrical infrastructure projects.

A new amendment to remove this requirement was introduced for debate during the second ordinary session of the National Assembly’s 7th Legislature under the chairmanship of NA Vice President Dr Xaysomphone Phomvihane.

In his remarks before the debate, the chairman recommended that members debate with a focus on the content and purpose of the law, relating to large electrical power projects and the NA’s right to approve them or not.

In the past, authorisation for power projects that have an installation capacity above 100 megawatts or use more than 10,000 hectares of land and have the potential to cause huge social and environmental impacts had to be approved by the NA in accordance with Article No. 61 of the Constitution, Dr Xaysomphone said.

This article states that questions relating to the future destiny of the country and the vital interests of the people must be submitted for the approval of the National Assembly, or the National Assembly Standing Committee when the National Assembly is in recess.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines said it was necessary to amend the law to respond to the rapid growth of the electricity industry and the intense competition in the sector, to limit delays in the development of proposed projects .

We would like to avoid the proliferation of projects that have been approved but make no real development progress. There are many projects that have been delayed or there is inertia in terms of their development, Minister of Energy and Mines Dr Soulivong Daravong said when introducing the amended draft of the law.

NA member for Khammuan province Lt Col Thipphachanh Phoxay said his province has faced problems relating to water management by some hydropower project operators. This has caused flooding and the loss of crops and livestock, while compensation was provided only to people who lost crops, but not for animals that fell ill or died because they were deprived of their food source in the floods.

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