Source: Vientiane Times
The government has approved a change in the status of Luang Prabang, Kaysone Phomvihane and Pakxe from towns to new cities, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Following the government’s approval, the three districts will need to officially declare their status so they can be recognised nationally and internationally.
Deputy Director of the Luang Prabang provincial Department of Planning and Investment, Mr Bounsom Thatsavong, told Vientiane Times on Friday that authorities would announce Luang Prabang as a new city this month.
The announcement will take place when the province holds activities to mark Visit Laos Year 2018 and celebrates Lao New Year.
“We have prepared various activities to celebrate the announcement of the world heritage town as a city, which should speed up socio-economic development and strengthen cooperative relations with other cities in the region,” he said.
Under the Local Administration Law, the new cities will be equivalent to a district, and the head of the city will be equivalent to a district governor.
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To be classified as a city, a municipality must have a population of 60,000 and be financially self-sufficient with regard to administration costs.
The law also stipulates that a city can include urban and suburban areas. However, the urban area must have a population of more than 25,000 people and a density of 900 people per square kilometre, while farmland must comprise less than 25 percent of the total.
Officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs said all of the villages in a city must be officially “developed”, meaning that it must not contain any poor villages.
Luang Prabang district (Luang Prabang province), Kaysone Phomvihane district (the capital of Savannakhet province) and Pakxe district (the capital of Champassak province) have met all the criteria for upgrade to city status.
Officials had debated whether new cities should include only urban areas, with rural parts to be given to other districts.
But surrounding districts were not willing to incorporate poorer regions of these cities as it would make them poorer. So it was decided that new cities would have both urban and suburban areas.
It is hoped that the upgrade in the status of these three towns will motivate residents to keep their neighbourhoods clean and liveable as well as play a greater part in socio-economic development.
Additionally, the three towns will be in a better position to strengthen cooperation with cities in neighbouring countries and the region.
Luang Prabang, Kaysone Phomvihane and Pakxe are major towns in Laos where socio-economic development has advanced more quickly than in other districts.
Pakxe is the biggest district in southern Laos, serving as the economic hub of the region with trade and investment activities mainly taking place in the town.