Vientiane Times, August 29, 2013
A senior government official has encouraged the Xayaboury dam developers to further the progress of the US$3.5 billion project despite concerns raised by opponents of the dam.
Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dr Bounthavy Sisouphanthong recently visited the project site in Xayaboury province, where he learnt of the progress made in dam construction as well as social and environmental programmes being undertaken by the developer in concert with local authorities.
“The lesson we have learned is that the developer and the government need to work hand in hand, understand our ultimate goal, and trust in one another. With this in mind, all our challenges will pass,” he said.
Dr Bounthavy said that when Laos moved to build the dam, there was quite strong opposition to the project. Now that interested parties have come to understand all the measures being taken to resolve issues, their concerns have been allayed.
“I am satisfied with this progress,” he said.
The deputy minister also called on the developer, Xayaburi Power Co. Ltd., (XPCL) to comply with agreements signed with the government and achieve the 2019 completion date to begin operation.
The Xayaboury dam will play an important role in the future of the Lao economy. It will be the largest hydropower plant in Laos and will contribute to sustaining the continued growth of the country’s economy in the years to come.
Its development is important for Laos if it is to graduate from least developed country status by 2020.
The value of foreign direct investment in Laos has fallen since the government announced the suspension of land concessions for rubber and mining projects until 2015.
The government must secure sustainable growth over the next several years by pulling in more foreign investment in the non-resource sector in order to secure sustainable economic growth.
According to the latest report from XPCL, the company has spent more than US$500 million or about 17 percent of the total project cost.
The company also stated that the 1,285MW hydropower project currently employs more than 8,000 people, of which 5,840 are Lao. The rest are Thais and foreigners.
The company estimated that the number of people employed by the project could rise to 12,000 people during peak construction.
The Xayaboury dam is the first run-of-river hydropower project to be built in the lower Mekong basin.
The project will not only play a significant role in driving economic growth in Laos but also contribute to community development and poverty reduction in Xayaboury province.
As a result of the project, new roads are being built to the area. Local people affected by the project are being compensated with new houses, animals and crop seeds and trained in agricultural production techniques.