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Champassak To Shut Down 226 Foreign-Operated Shops

Up to 226 shops run by foreigners in Champassak province whose operations contravene regulations are expected to face shutdown within weeks, the provincial authority has announced.

The foreign merchants, most of whom are Vietnamese and Chinese, are undertaking jobs reserved for Lao people, according to the provincial Industry and Commerce Department.

They are running medical clinics, barber shops, game shops, and shops selling various items such as motorbike spare parts, mobile phones, clothes, household items, food and drinks and acting as air ticket agents.

Provincial authorities early this month instructed officials in charge to take tougher action to regulate the issue after learning that the foreigners were continuing to infringe regulations despite warnings.

The authority began taking action about a year ago to regulate the issue in the provincial capital, Pakxe, when they issued warnings and gave the foreign traders a period of three-months to sell all their products and to then stop operating their businesses.

“It is already seven months past that deadline,” Acting Head of the provincial Enterprise Management Division, Mr Santisouk Orkeoteshow said yesterday.

He explained that resolving the situation had been slowed down by the complexity of the issues involved that required ongoing guidance.

Those shops whose business value is less than 250 million kip have been given three months to sell all their products and clear their businesses before closure, Mr Santisouk said, citing the regulation.

Those shops whose business value (each shop) is 250 million kip or more have been given a period of one year to sell out all their products and close. According to the department, 127 shops are in this category .

But foreigners can legalise their enterprises in accordance with Lao laws if the value of their businesses reach one billion kip and the business is not on the list reserved for Lao people.

“ Although the business value reaches one billion kip or more, the foreign owner can’t register their business if it is on the reserved list,” Mr Santisouk said referring to the regulation.

He admitted that many shop operators have not yet stopped trading following the warning and the three-month deadlin e.

According to him, provincial officials are expected to take action this week by undertaking inspections and imposing the regulation.

Another warning in two or three day’s time will be given and those who continue to infringe will have measures taken against them such as a number of fines for the infringements.

Those operating a business without an enterprise licence could be fined between one to 10 million kip for each infringement, while those without a visa for business operation could be fined between US$ 300 – 500 for each infringement.

The infringers could also face having their belongings (products) seized, according to Mr Santisouk.

Source: Vientiane Times