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Laos To Lose Millions Of Dollars Remitted By Workers Due To Covid-19 Crisis

Source: Vientiane Times

Laos expects to lose millions dollars in remittances from overseas workers this year following the return of thousands of Lao citizens to the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last year, Laos earned total US$42 million, or 0.22 percent of the GDP, through remittances from overseas workers, especially from Thailand, according to a macroeconomic assessment of the Laos economy for the first six months of 2020 amid the pandemic. The assessment was made by an agency of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.   

The pandemic is also expected to lead to an increased in the number of unemployed Lao workers.
The unemployment rate for this year is expected to be at least 20 percent, up from 9.4 percent in 2017. This rate includes Lao workers who returned from Thailand, or about 130,000 workers.

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The government, especially the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, has collected information on the number of workers outside the social security system who have been impacted by the pandemic. It has supported the workers with measures such as an allowance for the jobless that benefited about 3,738 people in 140 companies. The total allowances were worth 4.85 billion kip.

In recent years, workers have received more assistance as most people are now covered by the social security system.

However, the global pandemic has severely impacted Laos’ economy and most workers have been unable to claim unemployment benefits, whether for temporary or permanent job losses, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Dr Khampheng Saysompheng, said at the ninth Ordinary Session of the National Assembly’s eighth legislature.

Dr Khampheng said the ministry had been successful in helping Lao workers by ensuring that all of them, including those returning from countries affected by Covid-19 and those laid-off or furloughed by employers, were given appropriate assistance by their employers.

They will also receive assistance or unemployment benefits from the Lao government, where appropriate under the regulations.

The ministry has ordered labour officials in every province to provide detailed information on the number of people currently unemployed, he added.

Labour and Social Welfare Departments across the country are gathering information on jobs available in each province and in Vientiane.

The ministry will extend support programmes to people wanting to work on a freelance basis or be self-employed, as well as for those who hope to find work in other countries when the situation improves.

The ministry has partnered with Asean states for a collective response to the virus outbreak. This is aimed at mitigating the impact on vulnerable groups and obtaining updates from member states on the Covid-19 situation in each country.