Lao govt draws up measures to improve business environment

  • Laos
  • Wednesday, 19 Feb 2020

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The government has told the business sector that it is pro-actively tackling the remaining issues that are impediments to business operations in Laos.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Somdy Duangdy, told those gathered at the Business Leader Awards 2019 in Vientiane on Friday (Feb 14) that the government is determined to facilitate business operations by removing unnecessary procedures and other barriers.

“The Prime Minister’s Order No.2/PM is being implemented actively and we are set to be more proactive in 2020 to boost macroeconomic stability as well as the stability of the kip in relation to other currencies, and to tackle inflation and related problems, ” he said.

He made the remarks following requests by representatives of the business community who were given the Business Leader Awards for the government to pay special attention to business facilitation.

The main issues relate to access to finance for SMEs, minimising the time taken to register a business, and bolstering the sale of goods made in Laos.

Somdy said the government distributed 100 billion kip for the promotion of SMEs to various banks in 2019, and this amount will be increased in 2020.

“A Chinese loan of US$100 million was signed recently by the two sides. With an interest rate of one per cent per year, it is considered the lowest rate and loans will soon be available at selected banks in Laos, ” he added.

He stressed that borrowers must be prepared to improve their operations to meet the bank’s conditions, standards and requirements, to avoid non-performing loans.

At the same event, Somdy called on the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) to summarise requests from businesses and to submit them to the government.

He said Laos was not doing enough to comply with the needs of the business sector for several reasons, and this had resulted in its ranking on the global ease-of-doing-business index remaining unchanged.

“Laos was ranked 154 out of 190 countries on the World Bank Group’s ease-of-doing-business index in 2019, which was the same as in 2018, ” he said.

The Country Head of ANZ Bank (Lao branch), Rufus Pinto, who was one of the awardees, told the media that ANZ Bank Laos was privileged to be one of the leading international banks in the country. It has been operating in Laos since 2017 and supporting the nation’s economic growth, he said.

“This award is very special for us as it gives us a sense of recognition, pride and achievement for all the work that we’ve done throughout the years.”

Playing a significant role in facilitating trade and the provision of capital, the bank will continue to support Laos in growing businesses and attracting investments from across the ANZ customers’ network, Pinto said.

Asked what the government could do to help the bank operate more efficiently, he said the government was doing a great job in terms of recognising the challenges of foreign indirect investments thanks to the PM’s Order No 2 and other measures.

“We’d like to see these activities going through and ensuring that the government continues to do what they are already doing, which is making the policies and environment a lot easier, introducing a new policy to support foreign indirect investments, and easing the barriers that we currently have, ” Pinto said.

During the Business Leader Awards 2019 ceremony, which was organised by the LNCCI in cooperation with the Vientiane Times, awards were presented to 53 companies active in fields such as banking, tourism, agriculture and industry. - Vientiane Times/Asia News Network

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