The instruction was issued at the government’s monthly meeting for May held on May 24-25 at the Prime Minister’s Office and chaired by Thongloun.
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Dr Lien Thikeo told local media last week that logging under all approved quotas, including trees that needed to be felled to allow for the construction of infrastructure, must end by June 1.
The halt on logging will allow the government to review the implementation of the logging quota, which was previously approved by the government.
“The prime minister has instructed that no party be allowed to remove wood in Sanam I areas as this will create a loophole for illegal logging,” Lien told a press conference held shortly after the government’s meeting.
The authorities were asked to inspect felled wood in collecting yards known locally as Sanam II to ensure that all the wood had been cut in accordance with the government’s approved quota. All wood must be processed domestically.
Initial information suggests there are more than 68,000 cubic metres of timber in Sanam II in six provinces, according to the minister.
Lien said his ministry will work with the relevant bodies to carry out inspections to determine who owns the logs in the Sanam II and whether the owners have paid the related taxes and fees to the government.
Once the inspections are complete, the authorities are required to report the findings to the government. The government will consider whether to allow further logging in areas where previously approved logging quotas have not been fully met.
Consideration will be given to reopening forests for logging in October, Dr Lien said, referring to the Law on Forests.
The instruction came after Thongloun issued a Prime Ministerial Order banning the export of all types of logs and timber.
The ban aimed to encourage the processing of wood in Laos to add value to wood products and close loopholes for illegal logging.
The order, which was issued on May 13, also bans the export of partially-processed wood, tree roots, root balls, tree branches, dried trees and ornamental plants. State bodies are also prohibited from using timber to finance infrastructure development.
Dr Lien pledged to take strict action to implement the prime minister’s order and penalise anyone found to be violating the order.