Govt Meeting Approves Measures To Drive Growth

Regional connectivity, food security and revenue collection topped debate at last week’s government open meeting, in which cabinet, provincial governors and the Vientiane Mayor adopted measures to boost socio-economic development.

Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong chaired the five-day meeting, held at the Government Office.

Government spokeswoman, Ms Bounpheng Mounphoxay, told a media conference shortly after the meeting concluded participants had adopted a land, air and water transportation strategy that included a focus on rail.

Following the meeting priority will be given to connectivity with a regional rail system.

Officials have also been asked to earmark land required for the envisioned construction of a new international airport, and to carry out studies on potential international airports in the provinces.

Ms Bounpheng said the relevant authority has also been instructed to accelerate the construction and upgrade of national roads linking countries in the region, and to look at the possibility of building new highways for better regional connectivity.

The move is part of efforts to turn landlocked Laos into a ‘land-linked’ nation and transit hub for the region.

After heated debate participants also approved both immediate and long-term food security projects, including for commercial rice production.

Thirty measures – 22 specific and eight more general – were adopted to boost revenue collection for the next fiscal year.

Participants agreed on the need to enhance the responsibilities of tax collectors after revenue collection fell short of this fiscal year’s targets, partly due to misappropriation.

A consensus was reached on the Prime Ministerial Order on frugal measures against lavish practices, including the management of bidding for state projects and purchases, state vehicle use and reception spending.

The meeting agreed for further debate on amendments to the laws on Government and Local Administration and a newly-drafted Law on City and Municipality.

Participants also discussed an initial assessment report on the implementation of the socio-economic development plan for this fiscal year and next year’s plan.

According to the report, Laos registered economic growth of 8 percent this year and is poised to continue growing.

Ms Bounpheng said participants recognised a number of economic challenges facing Laos, including an inflation rate forecast to be higher than the growth rate.

She said significant increases in state spending amid lower-than-expected revenue collection figures posed a challenge.

The government is also struggling with debt payments, while the distribution of salaries to state employees in some provinces has been slow.

Meeting participants stressed the need to address issues related to revenue collection and salary payments and to look at the policies on finance, banking, credit release and bond sales.

“These policies have not been studied properly,” Ms Bounpheng said.

Other issues up for debate included court sentences that had not been carried out, land disputes, logging, drug abuse and human trafficking.

Prime Minister Thongsing told officials to be better prepared for natural disasters and to focus efforts on recovery work in areas hit by recent floods and landslides.

The prime minister pushed for more work in boosting agricultural production this rainy season and in the coming dry season.

He asked officials to more closely regulate product prices and do more to tackle undesirable social behaviour.

Mr Thongsing also encouraged participants to continue their work in dengue fever prevention and to further improve and streamline procedures conducive for investment by speeding up service delivery and ensuring transparency.

Source: Vientiane Times

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