Parliamentary question by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission and answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission
WRITTEN QUESTION E-0067/03
by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission
(13 January 2003)
Subject: Heavy deforestation in Laos
On 12 December, the "Bangkok Post" published an article about the arrest of six Vietnamese workers employed by the Laotian "DAFI" company who had been arrested for illegally entering Thailand with two trucks, in order to pick up 300 tree trunks. The event has drawn attention to the lucrative wood-trafficking business, in which it appears that high-ranking Laotian Communist officials have been actively involved, with complete impunity, for nearly three decades. In the Lao People's Democratic Republic, the state companies DAFI, AFD and PHOUDOÏ maintain an effective monopoly over fuel imports, the mining of ore and the exploitation of forests. According to an international report on the timber trade and exploitation of forests - "The Poverty Reduction and Environmental Management in Remote Greater Mekong Sub-region Watersheds project and its Timber Trade and Wood Flow" - DAFI, AFD and PHOUDOÏ are literally "above the law". The report states that, in spite of rules on logging quotas and forest production practices, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has no control over the three highly unusual companies, whose working procedures remain a mystery. Several international environmental organisations, such as Global Witness, the Environmental Investigation Agency, the International Tropical Timber Organization and the Earth Policy Institute have denounced the Lao PDR authorities' continued and "deliberate" practice of deforestation and "illegal trafficking" of wood, and have alerted the Thai government to the situation. According to thesesources, such practices have led to a reduction in the percentage of the country covered by forest to "less than 40%" compared to the 70% recorded 30 years ago, just before the Communists took power.
Is the Commission aware of the practices of the Laotian state companies? Does the Commission not believe these practices to be wholly at odds with the programmes financed by the international community to fight against deforestation in Laos? Does the Commission not consider that, in response to this umpteenth example of serious misappropriation of funding from international donors, it should suspend all cooperation programmes with Laos and propose that the Council adopt a similar position as regards bilateral cooperation programmes between the Member States and Lao PDR?
Answer given by Mr Patten
on behalf of the Commission
(24 February 2003)
The Commission's assessment of the economic and political development in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) and the nature of Community assistance to LAO PDR, is outlined in the Community -Lao PDR Country Strategy Paper , which was adopted in 2002 after agreement by Member States. The Commission's views on the situation in the environment/forestry sector are set out in the paper, demonstrating the Commission’s continued concern about the current level of deforestation in Laos.
Laos is the poorest of the Southeast Asian countries, with a gross domestic product per capita of only US$ 350 and with 30% of the population living on less than US$ 1 per day. Consequently, the development programmes of the Commission and of Member States focus on the most vulnerable segments of the population. Rural development, including the improvement of living conditions of families located in buffer zones of forest areas, health and basic education are the main areas of intervention, with particular attention being given to human rights and good governance actions. No Community support is given to the forestry sector nor to the four state companies mentioned in the Honourable Member’s question.
In agreement with Member States, the Commission maintains a policy of constructive political dialogue with the Laotian government, alongside continued support to the Laotian population through Community-assisted development programmes, which aim to support and accelerate the democratisation process in the country.
Members and contributors 2013
|Giuseppe R. Roma||590 €|
|Salvatore P. Capistrello||200 €|
|Giancarlo B. Torino||30 €|
|Marco B. Merano||20 €|
|Davide B. Prato||50 €|
|Giuseppe P. Grottammare||50 €|
|Maurizio T. Roma||1.000 €|
|Rosa A. Firenze||590 €|
|Giuliano G. Sondrio||590 €|
|Sergio Pasquale R. Cremona||500 €|
|Total SUM||326.746 €|
Online Donations 2013
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