Lao authorities are confident that the people of Tonpheung district in Bokeo province will greatly benefit from the special economic zone being developed by a giant Chinese company.
A high-ranking Tonpheung official has confirmed that the district's economy expanded more than 7% during the 2008-09 fiscal year, with a GDP that averaged out to more than $800 per annum per capita.
The official also expressed confidence that Tonpheung's economy will definitely grow faster during the current fiscal year, because of the special economic zone that is being developed by a Chinese company on a 827-hectare piece of land in the district, specifically to accommodate the implementation of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Zone.
The Chinese Dokngiewkham Company was granted a 75-year concession on the land, starting from 2007, to develop a comprehensive special economic zone within a 10-year period. The company has invested no less than 86 million dollars on building the necessary infrastructures and other facilities such as a school, a restaurant, a hotel, a hospital, a finance center, a golf course, a casino as well as handicraft and industrial parks.
The company expects to spend an additional $2,914 million from 2010 to 2017 to develop the area into a fully comprehensive special economic zone which will be divided into 34 sub-zones when completed in 2018. It is currently building a port on the Mekong River in Sub-zone 23. Sub-Zones 1-8 will be the seat of a five-star hotel and other facilities, while Sub-zone 18 will be a duty-free zone.
A casino and a resort hotel were officially opened last September.
Songrit Pongern reported from Bangkok on March 27, 2010. Listen to his report for more details in Lao.