A Chinese company has told Lao authorities it hopes to sign a concession agreement with the government this month to develop the Khonphapheng Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Champassak province.
The company, Guangdong Yellow River Industrial Group, presented the results of a project survey to the Ministry of Planning and Investment this week, illustrating the development of the project over the next two to three decades.
Deputy Governor of Champassak province Mr Buasone Vongsongkhone told Vientiane Times on Wednesday “Previously the company said they would invest US$10 billion in the project. However, they will disburse about US$9 billion for infrastructure development from 2018 to 2025.”
“This project has been approved by the district and provincial authorities but still requires approval from the government. I still don’t know when exactly this project will be submitted for discussion at the government’s monthly meeting. Nonetheless, I’m sure that the concession agreement will take place after the government approves it.”
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the government and the Guangdong Yellow River Industrial Group six months ago, allowing the company to conduct a feasibility study for the development as well as project designs.
The company presented a video clip of the master plan for the project’s development until 2050, which features a number of tall buildings that will serve as hotels, restaurants, a shopping centre and other tourism-related businesses.
The company anticipates that about 15 million tourists will be visiting the Khonphapheng SEZ by 2050.
“I assume that the concession period for the project will be about 50 years as stipulated in our laws, which can be extended for another 40 years,” Mr Buasone said.
“In the first phase of the project (2018-2025), the company will focus on building the necessary infrastructure including roads, water supply and drainage. The second phase may include an airport because it’s a mega project.”
Champassak provincial authorities had allocated over 7,000 hectares for the Khonphapheng SEZ but the Guangdong Yellow River Industrial Group says it needs 9,000 hectares for its project.
Mr Buasone said “We have the space to give 9,000 hectares but it will depend on the government’s decision in this regard.”
Chairman of the Champassak provincial SEZ Authority, Mr Khamphon Nuansengsy, told Vientiane Timesrecently the company is eager to take on the project.
The company is also committed to paying compensation worth US$6.5 million to businesses that currently hold tourism service concessions at Khonephapheng Waterfall.
A few months ago, the company granted US$1 million to Champassak provincial authorities for use in development activities.
If the project comes to fruition, it would be the largest investment venture in Champassak province and potentially the country.
Khonephapheng is the biggest waterfall in South-East Asia, attracting thousands of visitors to the area every year. The massive cascade is about 80km from the provincial capital Pakxe and close to the Cambodian border.
By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update January 13, 2018)
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