ABSTRACTED FROM EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: More than ten years after its original formulation, the Lao government is now questioning the effectiveness of the “Turning Land into Capital” (kan han thi din pen theun) policy in generating economic value from the commercialization of land, facilitating local economic development, and reducing state spending on infrastructure. The government is concerned that the Turning Land into Capital (hereafter TLIC) policy has not lived up to its goals due to 1) inefficient and ineffective collection of revenues from land investment projects, 2) a lack of specific regulations to guide the policy’s implementation that has led to abuse, and 3) the policy’s generation of negative social-environmental impacts and conflicts. In the last few years, the government has embarked on a series of land-related legal and policy reforms, including the recently issued Central Party Resolution on Land Management (hereafter Party Resolution on Land) and the ongoing revision of the 2003 Land Law and related decrees, potentially including a decree on TLIC. Such reform efforts present an opportunity to reflect on how the TLIC policy has been interpreted and implemented over the past ten years, and to offer recommendations for its reform and future direction. It also provides a chance to consider the engagement of the Land Information Working Group (LIWG) and its network organizations with TLIC, a decade since LIWG’s initial publication on the topic. To do so, a literature review, interviews with government and non-government actors, and an analysis of data from the piloting of the Lao Land Concessions Inventory and Quality of Investment projects in Luang Prabang and Xieng Khuang provinces were conducted. The report covers 1) a brief history of the concept and its varying interpretations; 2) how TLIC has operated as a policy in practice, particularly its size, scope, and social/economic performance; 3) the ways in which it is currently being reformed; and 4) recommendations for the ongoing reforms and civil society policy advocacy and engagement efforts.
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