Individual farmers who cut trees grown on their farmlands for sale will no longer pay forest rehabilitation and forest resource fees once the proposed incentives are approved and the decree is promulgated, a senior government official has said.
But the farmers will be required to pay income tax, the Acting Head of Legislature and Forestry Technical Standard Division under the Forestry Department, Mr Phomma Pathoummavong, said, citing the draft of the decree.
According to the draft, plantations registered with the relevant state bodies will be exempted from paying land use fee.
"Charges along roads when logs cut from individual plantations are being transported are also expected to be removed by the decree," said Mr Phomma, who was involved in the drafting.
Currently, different provinces have their own regulations that levy various fees, including forest rehabilitation and forest resource fees as well as charges along roads when logs are transported. Experts believe these measures do not support the promotion of commercial tree planting.
"Once the decree is promulgated, it will be a uniform reference to prevent undue charges," Mr Phomma said. The cutting of commercial trees, which are not traditional species, for sale, and the transportation of the cut logs can be conducted without having to seek permission from relevant authorities, according to the draft.
The draft of the decree on Commercial Tree Planting Promotion and Environmental Protection is being canvassed to study public opinions and it is expected to be submitted to the government for consideration and approval in the coming months.
Only people planting trees in their own farmlands shall enjoy exemption from land use fee under the decree.
Larger tree plantation projects under land concession agreements with the Lao government will be required to pay the land use fee in line with the Presidential Ordinance on Land Lease and Concession Fee. The draft also seeks to cut all fees when people cut down trees planted by them for their personal use or public use.
To ensure appropriate forest cover and the protection of forests, the draft requires a development project to contribute some funds for forest development and rehabilitation.
For example, a hydropower project developed in the three categorised forests " conservation, protection and production forests " is required to contribute one percent of its revenue per year.
A mining project is required to pay the same amount and after the project is phased out, the developer is required to re-level the excavated soil and replant trees to increase the forest area.