Vientiane Times, January 18, 2013
Laos will do its best to maintain good and friendly relations with the other Mekong countries after assuming the chair of the MRC Council this week, a senior government official has said.
“As chairman of the MRC Council for 2012/2013, we will continue to follow the 1995 MRC Agreement. We will do our best to follow the Mekong spirit of cooperation to maintain unity so that we can secure the sustainable use of natural resources and benefit all member countries,” Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Mr Noulinh Sinbandhit, said yesterday.
Mr Noulinh, who is Chairman of the Lao National Mekong Committee, took over the chairmanship of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Council from the Cambodian Minister of Natural Resources and Meteorology, Mr Lin Kean Ho, on Wednesday.
Mr Noulinh gave an interview at a press conference after presiding over a joint meeting between MRC member countries and development donors, one of a series of sessions of the 19th MRC Council, which officially ended in Luang Prabang yesterday.
He said the MRC member countries – Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam – consider that the 1995 Mekong Agreement is still an effective tool in dealing with current developments in the region and there is no need to amend it.
However, he said that all of the MRC member countries agreed that it was necessary to revise some of the working regulations of the Commission to ensure effective and transparent operations of the inter-governmental organisation.
He also said there was a need to review the role and duties of the MRC Council Chairperson to ensure the effective running of council meetings, adding that the role of the MRC Secretariat Chief will also need to be revised to meet the current development situation.
Mr Noulinh said he would push for enforcement of the regulations regarding water use and the management of water resources in the Mekong basin, which all MRC member countries endorsed to ensure sustainable development of the Mekong.
He said that during the council meeting, Laos took the opportunity to publicise the government’s policy on the development and management of river resources and cooperation with MRC members and development partners.
The Lao government has committed to ensure sustainable use of natural resources to ensure sustainable growth of the economy.
Mr Noulinh said Laos took this opportunity to inform the MRC member countries and development partners about the need for Laos to build a dam on the Mekong mainstream, adding that the project aims to generate revenue to reduce the level of poverty in the country.
Representatives of MRC member countries and development partners will be invited to see the progress of the Xayaboury dam, the first run-of-river dam to be built on the Mekong.