Source: Vientiane Times
The government has approved a change in the status of Luang Prabang from town to city, aimed at fast tracking socio-economic development in the province while enhancing relations with other cities in the region.
To qualify for city status, a municipality must have a population of not less than 80,000, be financially self-sufficient and have essential infrastructure in place for people to live and do business.
Head of the Luang Prabang provincial Administrative Office, Mr Soulisak Phommali, told Vientiane Times on Tuesday that Luang Prabang, which is listed as a World Heritage Site, has met most of those requirements.
“The new city will include the whole of Luang Prabang district (town) which has a population of over 100,000. The district is the main source of revenue for the province and has been allocated to support the development of other districts,” Mr Soulisak said.
He could not say whether all the income sourced from Luang Prabang district would be used only for the development of the district or whether some would be given to provincial authorities to assist the advancement of other districts.
Mr Soulisak was also unable to say whether the city mayor would be equal in status to district Governor as more discussions were needed to clarify the matter.
The government’s monthly meeting held in Vientiane on October 24-25, chaired by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, approved the upgrade of Luang Prabang to a city as proposed by the Luang Prabang provincial Governor and Provincial People’s Council.
The meeting also agreed in principle that Kaysone Phomvihane district (the capital of Savannakhet province) and Pakxe district (the capital of Champassak province) should be declared new cities.
The government instructed Savannakhet and Champassak provincial authorities to expedite preparations for making an official announcement on the change in status of their capitals at the same time as Luang Prabang.
“We planned to officially announce Luang Prabang as a new city in April next year when our province holds activities to mark Visit Laos Year 2018 and celebrate Lao New Year,” Mr Soulisak said.
Deputy Director of the Luang Prabang provincial Department of Planning and Investment, Mr Bounsom Thatsavong, said Luang Prabang has been developed as a clean, green and livable city.
He said the upgrade in status would motivate residents to do more to keep the city clean and livable.
Luang Prabang province comprises 12 districts and a population of over 400,000. The province relies mainly on tourism as a driver of economic growth and a generator of jobs.
Since it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, economic growth has increased by an average of 8.2 percent per year, with annual income per capita standing at 11.6 million kip (US$1,450).
Once Luang Prabang is fully designated as a city, it will develop more quickly and have better facilities for daily living and business. Additionally, Luang Prabang will be in a better position to strengthen cooperation with other cities in neighbouring countries and the region.
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