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Savannakhet Provincial Capital Seeks City Status

Savannakhet provincial capital has the necessary criteria and conditions for development as a city, including financial self-sufficiency, a top provincial official has said.

The province’s Deputy Governor, Mr Khampheuy Phanthachone, told Vientiane Times on Friday about the plan to designate the provincial capital, and the whole of Kaysone Phomvihane district, as a city.

“Kaysone Phomvihane district, which includes the provincial capital, has all the requisite conditions for being named a city, including financial criteria,” Mr Khampheuy said.

The district has a population of 130,000 people, which is above the number defined in the draft Law on Municipality and City presently being considered by the government. This piece of legislation states that a city should have a population of not less than 80,000.

With regards to infrastructure, the town has both narrow and broad roads, as well as shopping centres and other facilities.

It is currently the second largest town in Laos after Vientiane and is linked by the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge to Mukdahan in Thailand.

Mr Khampheuy said that based on these conditions the authorities wanted to redesign the town to better facilitate the development of industrial and service facilities in more appropriate locations.

“We want to move the bus station and tobacco and other factories to the outskirts. We believe this would ensure order and cleanliness in line with the priority goals of our plan,” he said.

The authorities also plan to build other facilities such as warehouses, libraries, shopping malls, and a night market, he added.

The proposed upgrade is also aimed at improving administration at the district and village levels.

According to the draft law, a city should be financially self-sufficient in covering its administration expenses.

As of August 22, the province had collected more than 793 billion kip in revenue, about 76 percent of its annual plan, and had spent more than 540 billion kip.

The deputy governor said the city would need 20 to 30 billion kip to cover annual administrative costs. The provin cial authorities would transfer more sources of district-based revenue to the new city administration so that it could boost revenue above the cur rent 10 billion kip earned annually.

Another criterion of a city as defined in the draft law is that less than 25 percent of the population should be engaged in farming.

Mr Khampheuy said the proportion of farmers in Kaysone Phomvihane district is currently higher than this but the contribution by agriculture to gross provincial product is less than that derived from industry and the service sector.

Source: Vientiane Times