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PM Demands Faster Business Licence Approval

Source: Vientiane Times

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith told his cabinet to take steps to expedite the approval of investment and business operation licences in line with an executive order he recently signed.

The premier issued the advice at the cabinet’s monthly meeting for January, which ended on Thursday.

Prime Ministerial Order No. 03, signed on Tuesday, was the latest in a series of moves by the government to facilitate business operation in an attempt to boost investment.

Laos is striving to improve the business environment. But despite the government’s continuous and increasing efforts, its global ranking suggests that Laos is deteriorating in this regard.

The ease-of-doing-business (EDB) ranking issued by the World Bank suggested that Laos dropped by 13 places in 2019 to 154th among 190 economies worldwide.

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Mr Thongloun underlined the need to improve the quality of education, which will ensure qualified human resources – one of the keys to attracting investment and spurring socio-economic development.

The two-day meeting asked the Ministry of Health to work with the relevant sectors to remain vigilant in preventing the spread of a new strain of virus – a reference to the coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which has caused a pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, in China’s Hubei province.

As of Thursday, 830 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the virus had been reported in 29 provincial-level regions in China, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

To prevent the virus from spreading into Laos, where no case had been reported as of Friday, the meeting called for the health ministry to issue warnings and advice on how to prevent the virus being spread.

In the wake of the outbreak, health authorities in collaboration with the relevant departments have heightened the screening of passengers at ports of entry.

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After being briefed on the progress made in modernising payment and revenue collection using mobile systems, the meeting agreed to establish a task force committee to define the timeframe required and accelerate work to complete the modernisation process.

The committee, to be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Somdy Duangdy, was also tasked with drawing up a digital payment master plan as well as a national master plan on a digital economy. Progress made in this regard is scheduled to be reported at the cabinet’s monthly meeting for March.

The meeting was briefed on the growing relations between Laos and Russia, and agreed to form a committee in charge of organising events to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries in October.

The cabinet called for the effective management of prices in local markets to ensure the price of goods was reasonable.

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce was told to work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and relevant sectors to promote productivity, especially in food production, to ensure sufficient supply.

In addition, the meeting instructed the relevant ministries and sectors to draw up a plan of work to fulfil the Laos-Vietnam cooperation plan for 2020.

The cabinet called for preparations to be made to host the third Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Summit; the ninth Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy Summit; 10th Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam; and Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam Summit, which are scheduled to take place in Vientiane in March. 

The cabinet approved a draft prime ministerial decree on rural energy promotion and development funding.