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Electronic Signature Law Will Boost E-Commerce

Source: Vientiane Times

The government has told the National Assembly (NA) that Laos needs to have an electronic signature law in place to boost E-commerce and facilitate E-governance.

Presenting the drafted electronic signature law to the NA’s ongoing 6th ordinary session yesterday for debate, Minister of Post and Telecommunications Thansamay Kommasith said the law was essential.Members of the NA passed the draft following their one-day debate.

The minister said countries in the region and around the world are modernising and switching to the digital economy. Laos is inevitably part of this changing trend so the law, which officially recognises electronic signatures, is essential to support this change.

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He described digitalisation and electronic products driven by the growing development of information communications technology (ICT) as an ‘effective tool’ to hasten socio-economic development.

A number of services such as making contracts, trade, disbursements (money transactions), services, and tax collection among others have been carried out via the electronic system.

“The Lao PDR has already made use of such digital technology. More and more payments of bills are made via electronic systems,” Mr Thansamay said, referring to the payment of electricity and water supply bills, and road tax among others via online banking. The Ministry of Finance will implement e-tax and e-customs next year.

Electronic signatures have has also been in use in the e-passport and e-visa system of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Many other state departments are introducing electronic systems to provide public services. Experts at the World Economic Forum 2018 predicted that some countries might stop using paper documents within the next two or three years and replace them with electronic documents.

By between 2025 and 2030, crypto-currencies are expected to be widely used and all economic sectors will be positively impacted by the use of 5G mobile applications inducing non-banking services.

Minister Thansamay, who represented the law drafting sub-committee, said Laos needs to prepare its legal system to handle and support this changing process to ensure safety and security in making use of the electronic documents and signatures.

NA members welcomed the drafted law, agreeing it will give a boost to modernising services and economic development.

Parliament member for Vientiane, Ms Valy Vetsaphong said the development toward industry 4.0 requires such a law to support this process.

Given the growing trend and its significance, NA members underlined the need to include digital and electronic learning in the school curriculum.

The drafted law defines principles, regulations and measures to manage electronic signature affairs. It also identifies certification authorities for the electronic signatures including the National Root Certification Authority, Public Certification Authority, and Government Certification Authority. The draft will be revised appropriately in line with recommendations of the parliament members.