National Assembly voices concern over shortfall in development targets


  • Laos
  • Wednesday, 03 Nov 2021

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): National Assembly members have expressed concern that various development targets may not be achieved by the government by the end of this year, due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

Assembly Vice-President Sommad Pholsena, on behalf of the NA Standing Committee, voiced concerns when addressing the ongoing NA session shortly after the government presented its reports on the progress of the socio-economic development plan.

He said Assembly members generally congratulated the government on its efforts to overcome challenges amid complex changes in the world and the nation’s financial difficulties and rising public debt.

However, the NA was concerned that several targets approved by parliament would not be met as planned.

“The gross domestic product is projected to grow by just 3 per cent in 2021, lower than the 4 per cent previously approved by the National Assembly. In addition, shortfalls will also occur in other areas including imports and exports, retail and wholesale businesses, vehicle repair, the processing industry and bus operations,” he said.

Sommad also noted that school enrollment had not increased as anticipated, especially in Grade 5 of primary school and Grade 4 of secondary school.

In addition, parliamentarians are concerned about the quality of education during online classes, saying this system is not as effective as it should be.

The Covid-19 outbreak forced schools to close in support of government efforts to flatten the infection curve.

Lawmakers observed that another challenge for Laos is rising unemployment after many thousands of Lao workers returned from Thailand, while job opportunities for returnees are insufficient.

The Covid-19 outbreak has not only reduced employment opportunities because of factory closures, but has also seen many families fall into poverty.

In 2020, there was a major decrease in tourist traffic of 75 per cent, resulting in the loss of 80 per cent of overall tourism revenue because of travel restrictions.

The government is still struggling to contain the spread of Covid-19 as the number of locally-transmitted cases continues to rise.

The NA observed that the government has attempted to cut spending on state vehicles and further implement its austerity policy.

But Sommad said tax evasion and the illegal import of fuel are issues that remained unresolved.

In addition, loans to boost productivity and small and medium enterprises have not been provided as planned.

NA members called on the government to formulate clearer plans to promote production for export purposes and to seek funding from within Laos and other countries to boost national development.

Lawmakers also urged the government to strongly regulate currency exchange rates and the price of goods on sale in markets to minimise the harmful effects on people’s lives.

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Laos , Development Targets , Covid-19

   

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