Lao officials say they will continue to implement strict measures to inspect all the country's sawmills and wood-processing plants in 2009 to ensure strict enforcement of the regulations that the government has laid down. Any sawmill or wood-processing plant found not in compliance with the regulations will be shut down immediately.
The goal is to stem illegal logging and illicit timber trade by making sure that only processed woods are exported, and the processed woods come from logs that have been lawfully cut down in concession areas and according to granted quotas.
In 2008, Lao authorities inspected 1,333 sawmills and wood-processing plants across the country, excluding small-sized furniture factories and household enterprises. 280 of those inspected were found to be in compliance with official regulations, while the other 1,053 were found to be in violation, substandard, or operating illegally.
In a related development, the Lao government has approved a logging quota of no more than 200,000 cubic meters for the fiscal year 2008-09, up 25% from last year. It cited the need to meet the rising demand for woods by the wood-processing and construction sectors as the reason for the quota increase.
Listen to Songrit's report for more details in Lao.