With a special economic zone (SEZ) slated for development in Luang Prabang province, the government has issued instructions for people living within the planned zone not to sell or purchase land until further notice.
The Phousy Group has been granted a 99-year concession on an area of land in Chomphet district across the Mekong River from the provincial capital, and all land transactions have been prohibited to prevent land speculation.
Development of the zone on an area of 4,850 hectares is expected to cost the Phousy Group US$1.2 billion, and will bring the total number of SEZs nationwide to 13.
The announcement from the government was issued on March 7 after an agreement to build the zone was signed earlier this year by representatives from the government and the Phousy Group.
Citing the notice, people who try to buy or sell land from this point forward will be penalised under the relevant laws and regulations. Compensation for land within the zone that is needed for development is under consideration, according to the provincial authorities.
The development is part of plans to create a new town outside the provincial capital, while ensuring the town's cultural integrity is preserved.
The zone will be located about 10km outside Luang Prabang town centre with another site in Chomphet district on the other side of the Mekong.
Based on the plan, the Phousy Group will build a bridge across the river along with roads, electricity, water supply and other amenities to attract businesses to the area.
People who live in the area, along with visitors, currently use ferries to cross the Mekong to travel the short distance between the town of Luang Prabang and Chomphet district.
A bridge will facilitate tourism, trade and investment in the province.
Designed as a new town, the zone will feature a 23-storey building, schools, hospitals, a shopping centre, bank, hotels, restaurants, and residences for older people. Areas for vegetable gardens are also planned.
A one-stop operating service will be introduced for businesses in the zone to ensure transparency and accountability and to facilitate development.
When the development is complete, the government believes it will help to boost economic growth in the province and generate job opportunities for local people.
The zone will not only serve as a driver of economic growth, but will also spur development in other areas.
Other Special and Specific Economic Zones in Laos are the That Luang Marsh SEZ in Vientiane, the Savan-Seno SEZ in Savannakhet province, the Golden Triangle SEZ in Bokeo province, the Boten Dankham SEZ in Luang Namtha province, the Vientiane Long Thanh Golf Course, the Phoukhiew SEZ in Khammuan province, and the Pakxe-Japan Specific Economic Zone in Champassak province.