Lao PM calls for stronger support for business

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN): Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh told business operators attending the13th Lao Business Forum in Vientiane on Wednesday (July 28) that the government is determined to work with the public and private sectors to address unresolved issues.

The aim of the forum was to review progress made in public-private dialogue to improve the business environment, as a follow-up to the 12th Lao Business Forum.

Speaking at the meeting, the prime minister praised the private sector for its successful preparations for the forum and the well-prepared agenda.

“The unresolved issues outlined by the private sector during dialogue in relation to the improvement of the business environment are based on facts concerning these continuing problems,” Phankham said.

“Working with the private sector is critically important for the public sector to provide services for strategies, policies and law enforcement,” he added, noting that the government will urgently assign ministers from line ministries to solve problems case by case.

When problems are identified, the assigned ministries in collaboration with the private sector will team up to tackle them without wasting any more time, the premier said.

Phankham said the recommendations made by the private sector were a sincere reminder by the business sector of the need to inform the government about challenges and problems in business operations.

“Most importantly, legitimate comments made by the private sector will contribute to be references for assessing the enforcement of laws in line ministries and at every level of administration in the public sector,” he added.

The prime minister also called for the private sector to conduct business with integrity and to build more networks to create opportunities for expanding cooperation with foreign partners, based on the new mind-set of business operation.

“As the policymaker and facilitator, the government is ready to cooperate with the private sector in addressing the remaining problems,” Phankham said in his closing remarks.

The half-day event also reviewed the progress of the dialogue process since the 12th Lao Business Forum and demonstrated broad support for structured dialogue through the forum in the identification and resolution of key issues affecting the private sector.

Private sector speakers complimented the government on its concerted effort to roll out effective Covid-19 containment and mitigation measures as well as immediate measures to protect vulnerable workers and firms from the worst effects of the sudden drop in economic activity.

These measures included tax exemptions and deferrals, provision of low-interest loans, and unemployment benefits through social security programmes.

The forum also agreed on a concrete plan of action to continue dialogue and seek appropriate solutions to the remaining 32 issues in the next 12 months.

Since the 12th Lao Business Forum, the private sector and government agencies have prioritised 40 specific issues in the areas of business entry, trade facilitation, access to financial services, enforcement of laws and regulations, and the promotion of sustainable tourism and agribusiness.

Discussions resulted in the resolution of eight issues, while progress is being made on the remaining issues.

Some 400 participants, representing domestic and foreign businesses, public sector agencies, as well as the international diplomatic community and development partners, attended the forum through separate video conference rooms. - Vientiane Times/Asia News Network

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