Laos Government to address seven urgent issues to spur development

VIENTIANE, March 24 (Vientiane Times/ANN): Addressing financial affairs, particularly public debt and financial leaks, is one of the seven urgent issues that the government will tackle over the next five years.

Newly-elected Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh highlighted the seven concerns when presenting a draft of the 9th five-year National Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2021-25 and State Budget Plan for 2021-25 to the National Assembly.

The amount of revenue generated was insufficient and did not align with the potential offered by the country, meaning there were inadequate financial resources to drive development, he said.

Phankham vowed to increase revenue and address the chronic public debt in order to boost economic growth, and to incorporate an austerity policy into the national agenda.

Secondly, the government will take strong action to counter social ills such as corruption, drug trafficking, and road accidents, which are hindering the country’s development.

The PM said the government is keen to create an environment that is conducive to attracting more investment and to take action against officials who abuse their position of power for personal gain.

Thirdly, the government will focus on economic recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and create more job opportunities.

In addition, the government will address economic vulnerability, focusing on quality growth and reducing reliance on the ineffective extraction of natural resources to boost economic growth. The government will also push for the implementation of priority projects, especially those relating to productivity and services.

Fifth, the government will try to reduce development disparities between urban and rural areas to allow more people to access basic public services, especially health and education.

Sixth, the government will focus on human resource development, moving towards professionalism in response to the 4.0 digital age and new normal.

Finally, issues relating to exchange rate fluctuations and depreciation of the kip will be addressed by boosting the production of goods for export and reducing imports.

Laos is vulnerable to external shocks, climate change and natural disasters, the effects of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic and have increased the government’s public debt and fiscal deficit.

Over the past five years, the economy has grown at an annual average rate of 5.8 per cent, lower than the 7.2 per cent approved by the National Assembly.

However, this figure is higher than the global average economic growth rate thanks to the support of development partners and friendly countries.

Of particular significance is the fact that the uninterrupted construction of large-scale development projects continues to drive economic growth.

These include the Laos-China railway, Vientiane-Boten expressway, special economic zones, tourism development projects, and industrial parks.

Construction of the Laos-China railway is now more than 90 percent complete and is scheduled for full completion at the end of this year. On Tuesday, National Assembly members debated the socio-economic development and state budget plans for 2021-2025. - Vientiane Times/ANN

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