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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Energy and mines minister dies

Lao Minister of Energy and Mines, Dr Bosaikham Vongdara, died yesterday at the age of 60.

According to a press release from the government, Dr Bosaikham's health deteriorated this week.

Dr Bosaikham, who was also a member of the Party Central Committee, was offered extensive medical care by a team of local and foreign doctors but sadly died yesterday morning.

Dr Bosaikham was born on April 15, 1948 in Phonsavanh village, Paek district, Xieng Khuang province. He married Ms Vansy Vongdara and they had two children.

Dr Bosaikham joined the revolutionary movement in 1974 and worked as a technical official at the Central Economic Affairs Office in Viengxay, Huaphanh province until 1975.

From 1978 to 1982, he studied in the former Soviet Union and obtained a Doctorate in Geology. He was a secretary of the Lao student youth union while in Moscow .

From 1996 to 1999, he was Ministry of Industry and Handicraft Office Head and Party committee member for this ministry.

He was the Lao Trade Union President in 2005 and was e lected to the Party Central Committee in 2006.

Dr Bosaikham was Minister of Energy and Mines from 2006 until his death.

The Party Central Committee, National Assembly and government agreed to hold a memorial service to pay tribute to him. It started yesterday and will continue until Sunday in a hall of the Prime Minister's Office in Vientiane .

The Party Central Committee Secretariat has appointed a committee to host the memorial service for Dr Bosaikham. Minister of Labour of Social Welfare, Ms OnchanhThammavong, has been named committee president and Minister of Education Dr Somkot Mangnomek as vice president.

By Vientiane Times
(Latest Update July 25, 2008)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

NA approves Hongsa power plant amid environment concerns

The Hongsa lignite-fired power plant pr oject was yesterday given in-principle approval by the National Assembly, despite its concern the project could negatively impact the environment and livelihood of local people.

One of their main concerns was the health of people who lived in surrounding areas, as the plant will emit carbon dioxide as part of the electricity production process. The members encouraged the project to use clean technology as much as possible.

NA members urged the government to continue doing a detailed study on the negative and positive impacts of the project, whilst demanding reasonable compensation for the 367 families from five villages who would have to be resettled.

NA member for Champassak province, Mr Kisin Sinphan-ngam, said the living standards of the 367 families must be improved.

“They need to have enough land to support themselves,” he said.

“If they don't, this project will only increase their poverty.”

NA member for Khammuan province , Dr Bounnhong Khinsamone, said Laos had not reaped the full benefits of foreign investment in the past. He gave the example of companies that had promised to employ Lao workers, but later claimed local workers did not have the necessary skills and so imported foreign labour instead.

The Lao Holding State Enterprise General Manager, Dr Somboune Manolom, accepted the project would have some negative impacts but claimed the benefits would be far greater, boosting the country's economy while reducing poverty.

Electricity production will begin in 2013, with the project costing about US$3,900 million.

The country will receive more than US$2,500 million over a 25 year period through share dividends and taxes.

The Lao government will hold a 20 percent share in the project, worth US$196 million. About US$100 million of the value of the government's share will be borrowed from the EXIM Bank of China and the remainder from th e China Development Bank.

Almost 13 million tonnes of lignite will be excavated to supply the plant each year, totalling 325 million tonnes over the 25 years of the project concession.

There is estimated to be about 713 million tonnes of lignite in the 12sqkm of land allocated to the project. This is sufficient to continue fuelling the power station for an additional 25 years after the concession period ends.

The project is expected to create jobs for about 10,000 people, of which 80 percent will be Lao.

Local people will also benefit from infrastructure development including roads, schools, irrigation, hospitals, markets and electricity.

Villagers will not need to be resettled until the project commences work in the areas they live in.

The government has set up an environmental management committee to resettle villages affected by the project to ensure its effectiveness.

Article 9 of the electricity law stipulates that hydropower development projects with an installed capacity of more than 50,000 kilowatts must be approved by the NA.

The law on water and water resources further stipulates that any changes to water flow also need approval from the NA.

The Hongsa lignite project will have a generating capacity of 1,800 megawatts and will change existing water flow, meaning the project requires approval by the NA.

By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update July 25, 2008)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Champassak to stop using Thai electricity next year

Champassak province will stop buying electricity from Thailand in 2009, according to Champassak Provincial Electricity Department Deputy Manager, Mr Khoune Bouaphengphanh.

“We will produce enough electricity for domestic use once the new Xexet 2 hydroelectric power station is complete,” he said.

When the plant begins operating it will supply all of Champassak's power demands, as well as generating electricity for the southern provinces of Attapeu, Saravan, Xekong, and Savannakhet.

“At present the province buys electricity from Thailand during the dry season from November to March, because we cannot generate enough for our use at this time of the year,” Mr Khoune said.

“The Xexet 2 plant began construction in 2005 and when it is finished in 2009 we will have electricity all year round and can sell it to the four provinces nearby.”

There are 10 districts in Champassak province, and more than half of the 926 villages receive electricity from the provincial branch of Electricite du Laos.

The branch plans to expand the grid system in rural areas to reach another 119 villages over the next six years, with funds allocated from the World Bank, according to Mr Khoune.

By 2010, the provincial electricity department expects the grid will reach 70 percent of villages in Champassak province.

Mr Khoune said an ambitious goal for Laos would be to provide electricity to 75 percent of rural families by 2020. Currently 80 percent of the Lao population lives in rural areas, but only 43 percent of these people have access to electricity.

Solar panels are becoming important assets for poor families who cannot yet access the national electricity grid, he said. Champassak province is located in southern Laos and shares borders with Thailand and Cambodia.

By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update July 15, 2008)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Namkene hydropower dam construction in Kasy to take shape

(KPL) The Vientiane province Planning and Investment Division and the SV Group Company on July signed an MOU on feasibility study in the construction of a hydropower dam along Namkene river in Kasy district, Vientiane province. The dam will have an annual installed capacity of 10 million kW/h, worth US$5 million. The signing ceremony took place at Vientiane province Planning and Investment Division which was signed by Head of Vientiane province Planning and Investment sector, Mrs Singkham Dongsavanh and Director of the SV Group Company, Mr Phanthachith Inthilath.
The Namkene hydropower electricity construction area is 1 km far from Kasy district's urban north and is about 15 km far away from Road No. 13 North in Phachao village. The transmission line of the Namkene hydropower plant will connect the electric grid directly in Kasy district.
The construction of this dam impact a few environment and living conditions of local people due to villagers would not have removed.
The logs have already cleared from the flooding area.

Delayed budget supply, a barrier of Nam Ngum development project

(KPL) Many problems of Nam Ngum reservoir Development project need to be dealt particularly in the promotion of agriculture production linking to the use of budget supply seems to delay.
So the authorities of Nam Ngum reservoir Development project gathered at Lao Plaza hotel to discuss on the development of the project work and solve troubles.
This project, a priority of the Government and pilot project for conservation and sustainable natural resources, particularly water resources protection which was financial support from many resources.
This project covers Xiengkhouang, Luang Prabang, Vientiane provinces and Vientiane Capital which a lot of state organization taking part in the project. By focusing on the improvement of people's living conditions living in reservoirs and upper part of Nam Ngum river linking to natural resource and environmental protection. Over the past six months of the project operation seemed many frameworks of the project have improved considerably and a lot of works have had progressively, particularly in the strengthen in purchasing, employment, coordination, inspection and other technical works of all project cells, Mr Khamchanh Vongphosy, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry applauded the project progress, who he gave a speech at the 7th meeting of Steering Committee of Nam Ngum Development Reservoir held at Lao Plaza hotel on 4 July.
He added that the project financial supplies did not implement on schedule, the village development fund connecting to eradication of slash-burn cultivation in some localities have not taken shape.
In addition, the releasing of loan to local farmers was quite low so they could not bring a few loan do anything causing a number of people lost opportunities of shifting fixed vocational job and family economic development. Despite the project works have already been divided to all provinces concerned to manage and respond all works was limited.
Mr Khamchanh urged the participants to brainstorm into the problems in line with realistic conditions of all localities.