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PM Orders Top Officials To Ramp Up Economic Growth

Source: Vientiane Times

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has ordered ministers, the Vientiane mayor and provincial governors to implement eight measures to stimulate economic growth.

The measures have been designed to boost socio-economic development over the rest of the year and in 2019, amid budgetary tension.

The first measure aims to curb inflation and improve monetary policy, in which the Bank of the Lao PDR has been told to play an active role in controlling the amount of money (M2) in circulation.

In addition, the central bank has been told to stabilise the exchange rate while increasing foreign currency reserves by boosting exports and encouraging more financial transactions through banks.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce has been ordered to define price structures as well as regulate the price of fuel and other products to minimise the impact on consumers.

The ministry was told to promote the production and use of renewable energy as well as push for greater productivity and to strengthen the processing industry so as to reduce imports.

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The second measure concerns improving the business climate and facilitating business.

The seven-page order drawn up by the prime minister stipulates that government bodies must streamline the paperwork involved in approving investment projects, as well as for imports, exports and business operations.

Government bodies were also instructed to reduce red tape and introduce one-stop services to attract more investment to Laos.

The third measure concerns the payment of domestic debts, highlighting the need to further implement the triangle-debt-diversion disbursement initiative for which the government has allocated 3.25 trillion kip to pay the money owed to private companies within a 10-year period.

The government has said it would prioritise the payment of debts to companies that have fully completed the construction of state-invested projects.

The fourth measure relates to revenue collection and expenditure management. Authorities are asked to re-examine income sources and be proactive in gathering taxes from businesses that have failed to pay their taxes.

The government stressed the need to computerise the collection of taxes, tariffs and fees while enhancing the efficient management of imported fuel and vehicles, and combatting the illegal import of these products.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines has been ordered to scrutinise loan-funded transmission line projects to determine whether tax/tariff exemptions were legally based.

The fifth measure relates to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the promotion of productivity.
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce has been told to act as the core coordinator in working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of the Lao PDR to bolster productivity.

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One of the most urgent tasks is to facilitate access to financing by SMEs, and encourage entrepreneurs to adopt new techniques and technology in their production processes.

The sixth measure concerns the improvement of the investment structure. The sectors involved have been ordered to identify overvalued and low-quality state-invested projects and re-calculate the exact cost of construction of these projects before paying the contractors.

The seventh measure relates to land management and revenue collection from land. The relevant sector must expedite the issuance of land titles and use a computerised system to collect land taxes and fees.
The eighth measure concerns the inspection of law enforcement, notably by looking at whether the management of state-owned property is in line with the law.