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Lao Govt Vows To Smooth The Path For Investors

Source: Vientiane Times

The government has pledged to remove barriers and further improve the business climate in a bid to attract more investment from Laos and foreign countries.

In addition, the government will not approve new mining projects for the rest of this year while it reviews the progress of existing projects.

With regard to hydropower projects, the government will reassess investment in this sector to ensure that all investments comply with the country’s laws and contribute to national development.

Addressing the National Assembly on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Sonexay Siphandone, said the government intended to address economic issues and attract more investment from the private sector.

Investment by the private sector totalled 26,127 billion kip between 2016 and 2020, representing 50.7 percent of all investment in Laos, he said.

“In the future, investment capital for national development will come from the private sector, which is essential to further boost economic growth,” he added.

Dr Sonexay said the government will also put into practice the “three opens” policy, relating to an “open mind”, “open door” and “open barriers”, which Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith introduced a few years ago.

“Concerning an open mind, we have to open our minds to welcome foreign investment. Meanwhile, investors need to open their minds by showing us that they really want to invest in Laos,” he added. In the past, some investors had obtained concessions for projects without proceeding with operations, planning to sell them on to other investors, he noted.

The deputy prime minister called for government bodies to open their minds by providing better services and facilitating investment by the private sector, saying that in the past this had not always been the case.

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Dr Sonexay said the concept of open doors was very important in enabling Laos to connect to the rest of the region, boosting trade, investment and people-to-people exchanges.

In the future, Lao consulates and embassies in foreign countries will be instructed to play a greater role in providing information and encouraging foreign investment in Laos.

“Concerning “open barriers”, the Party’s policy outlines the need to remove barriers which delay socio-economic development, but we have not done well in implementing this policy,” he said.

The “open barriers” concept is intended to eliminate administrative barriers that slow or prevent economic development. Many people find it difficult to start or run a business because they need to get approval from a large number of officials, wasting time and money in the process of completing all the paperwork.

The government will re-assess the effectiveness of various policies aimed at strengthening the economy, particularly those relating to land rights and real estate.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused rising unemployment in Laos, which currently stands at about 20 percent, and the government pledged to address this issue.

“We have to improve the skills of the workforce and ensure workers can find jobs in foreign-funded projects and industrial parks,” Dr Sonexay said.

In addition, the government will further encourage foreign investors to train and employ Lao people, in line with the law.
Chairman of the National Assembly’s Law Committee, Mr Saithong Keoduangdy, said collaboration between government sectors was weak and this also needed to be urgently addressed.