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One-Stop Service ‘Still Can’t Be Implemented’: DPM

Source: Vientiane Times

The one-stop service introduced by the government to enable the completion of service procedures at one location is still not implemented effectively, a deputy prime minister told parliament on Thursday.

Responding to questions raised at the ninth ordinary session of the National Assembly’s eighth legislature, Dr Sonexay Siphandone said investors still need to get approval from each line ministry responsible for a particular area of the proposed investment.

Assembly members asked the government to improve the operation of the one-stop service after learning that investors still had to apply to several departments to get approval for their investment proposal.

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Members noted that one-stop services in other countries are able to issue an investment licence.

“A one-stop service should be able to authorise all aspects,” one Assembly member said, adding that in Laos investors still have to seek approval from different departments.

“Why can’t we arrange everything in one place to quicken [procedures] so that our country will not remain at the 154th position in world rankings,” he said, referring to the ease-of-doing-business ranking published by the World Bank.

In response, Dr Sonexay, who is also Minister of Planning and Investment, said “What we want to achieve is the granting of approval at one location, but in real practice we are still unable to do so.”

This shortcoming continues to exist because of the stipulations of laws and regulations governing the relevant areas, which still require the ministries concerned to be involved in the approval process.

“Getting an approval from the Ministry of Planning and Investment doesn’t mean that investors can get everything done. They also need to get [another] approval from the Ministry of Energy and Mines if they want to invest in a mining or hydropower project,” Dr Sonexay said.

Those wanting to operate a hospital need approval from the Ministry of Health, he added.

The deputy prime minister said the issue of arranging all services at the one-stop service office had been tabled at cabinet meetings, raising the idea of assigning representatives from all the relevant sectors to work at the one-stop service office.

Dr Sonexay pledged to push for improvement of the one-stop service mechanism as far as the relevant laws and regulations allowed.

Laos’ ranking has not risen in recent years despite the government announcing a few years ago that it would strive to improve the ranking to just two digits by 2020.

Laos has been placed 154th for the last two consecutive years in the World Bank’s ease-of-doing-business ranking.