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PM Urges City Market To Maintain Prices, Brace For Fire

Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong has advised traders at Khuadin Market in central Vientiane not to take an advantage of Lao New Year demand and increase prices as it will directly affect the livelihoods of local residents.

Mr Thongsing also called for authorities and traders to take steps to prevent a market fire after the Thongkhankham market tragedy last week.

The advice came after the prime minister led high-ranking officials on a visit of Khuadin Market yesterday to discuss ways to regulate product prices during over Lao New Year.

“I have observed that product prices in Laos always go up during New Year but they never go down afterwards,” Mr Thongsing said.

He said the seasonal hike in product prices always impacts the livelihoods of government officials and the poor.

Mr Thongsing said Laos is a country that imports more than it exports, highlighting the fact that the country imports two thirds of the food it consumes.

He said when demand rose the prices of products would go up but it was important to manage the increase.

The government has a policy of promoting domestic productivity and trade as a way to help Lao people escape poverty and graduate the country from least-developed country status by 2020.

Mr Thongsing asked the authorities to inspect electricity use at the market and other risk factors that can cause fire.

“I, on behalf of the government, feel regret and sympathise with the victims who lost so much in the fire at Thongkhankham market,” he said.

He said the country’s top leaders had met after the fire to discuss the issue. Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire that destroyed more than 380 stalls.

Mr Thongsing asked why fires break out at so many markets in Laos, including those in Pakxe town of Champassak province and in the provinces of Xieng Khuang and Saravan. Almost every major market in Vientiane has burned down at some point.

He said the main reason was that markets were more complicated than other places because of their complex electrical systems and the myriad activities undertaken inside them, with some people cooking food and others selling flammable materials like candles.

He called on local authorities to improve market arrangements and ensure everything was well organised to prevent the outbreak of fire.

Khuadin is a major market in Vientiane that not only serves residents of the city but also facilitates trade between provinces, bringing together buyers and sellers from all around the country.

Built at least 25 years ago near the capital city’s bus station Khuadin market comprises 650 stalls, of which 250 sell agriculture products.

Source: Vientiane Times