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PM Pledges Massive Cut In State Vehicle Spending

Source: Vientiane Times

Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh has told the National Assembly (NA) that his administration will make huge reductions in spending on vehicles.

He made the commitment last week when addressing an extraordinary session of the NA’s ninth legislature.

For years extravagance has been the norm with regard to the amount spent on vehicles purchased for use in state affairs, especially for use by state officials, which has placed an added burden on overall state expenditure.

Speaking to Assembly members about the government’s austerity policy, the premier said “The number one of what we are going to do starting in the next few days is ‘cutting spending’ on state vehicles.”

“There are thousands of excessive state vehicles.”

Striving for effective state investment and spending is one of the measures being introduced by the government to tackle financial and economic difficulties.

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Attempts to resolve this chronic issue have now been formally recognised and classified as a national agenda, requiring collective and urgent action.

Mr Phankham told NA members that cutting spending on vehicles is one of the measures being used to implement the national agenda.

The government also presented a draft decree on state vehicles to lawmakers, which defines the exact number of vehicles needed for each purpose.

“According to the decree, there are numerous excessive cars,” PM Phankham told the NA session, which was televised.

The prime minister said he would sign the decree after the NA session.

Citing the decree, the prime minister said a member of the Politburo the top decision-making body in Laos will be provided with two vehicles an SUV and a sedan unlike before when one member was given several vehicles.

The extra vehicles will be transferred to state bodies that currently have insufficient cars for use in state affairs. When the planned balance is achieved, the premier said the government would not purchase any more new vehicles.

Retired senior officials would no longer be given a vehicle or vehicles as before, PM Phankham said.

This rule would be applied to officials ranging from Politburo members.

But the PM added that there would be an exception for senior officials who had already retired.

Members of the public praised the prime minister’s commitment after the announcement was televised by Lao National Television, with everyone expressing hope that steps would be taken to fulfil the pledge.

“It is excellent that a regulation is formulated and promulgated, but will action be taken to fully realise it?” a Facebook user with the first name Phoukeo commented.

“I pray for it to be fully realised,” another Facebook user named Manilay said.

In addition, PM Phankham said the government is considering buying electric vehicles for state use, saying they are much more energy-efficient after test driving an electric car.

The spending cut on state vehicles comes following growing pressure for the country to rein in expenditure amid growing financial difficulties an issue that has been escalating for many years.

PM Phankham’s predecessor Thongloun Sisoulith, who is now President, also pushed for spending cuts on state vehicles, which resulted in Party and state leaders returning their expensive European-brand cars. They were replaced by cheaper-brand cars, while limits have been placed on the number of vehicles used by senior officials.