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Laos’ PM optimistic about sustainable economic growth

Prime Minister of Laos Thongloun Sisoulith. Photo: Vientiane Times. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

VIENTIANE, Nov 8, 2019, Vientiane Times. Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith expressed optimism that economic growth would recover in the near future, saying the current stagnation was necessary because the government was attempting to put the economy on a sustainable path, Vientiane Times reported.

“The slower growth of the economy is necessary because the economic base is being transformed to a more realistic position. This is intended to create a strong and sustainable economic foundation as well as build a productivity base and diversify income into local areas,” the premier said.

The slowdown of the global economy, as well as floods, drought and plant and animal diseases in many provinces had also slowed economic growth this year, he added.

Mr Thongloun made the comments while speaking at the eighth session of the 8th legislature of the National Assembly, which opened in Vientiane yesterday. This week the year-end session will debate the government’s performance.

According to the prime minister, economic growth this year is projected to reach 6.4 percent, which is lower than the rate approved by the National Assembly. The approved growth rate was at least 6.7 percent.

Mr Thongloun said that although the growth rate had fallen short of the approved target this year, the growth achieved had been of better quality because in recent years the government had enforced laws more strictly, eliminated illegal trade, and suppressed drug trafficking.

The government had also attempted to address undesirable activities and strongly encouraged sustainable change, had promoted justice and was brave enough to address harm to the nation and its people, he added.

The prime minister also mentioned the positive signals for economic sustainability, saying that the budget deficit had declined from 6 percent in 2015 to 4 percent in 2018.

The government was also able to collect more revenue from domestic sources, with the amount rising to 26,200 billion kip up from 21,000 billion kip in 2016.

Other achievements included the fact that the government had made progress in addressing the debts it owed to private companies. The government had also established an SME fund and injected 32 billion kip to boost investment in SMEs.

In addition, the government had signed agreements with neighbouring countries for the export of electricity. The government was now studying policies that would enable businesses to obtain affordable electricity so they could cut their operating costs.

The government had also investigated land concession lease projects and learnt that many had not proceeded as planned. The government would enforce the law in this regard in order to move these projects forward, Mr Thongloun said.

The key focus of the government in 2020 would be to maintain political stability, security and social order, aiming to create a solid foundation for national socio-economic development.

Other important tasks for the administration are to maintain sound fiscal and monetary stability, address barriers to economic productivity and services, promote domestic production, and boost exports.
The government would continue to develop infrastructure to connect to neighbouring countries, and develop tourist sites and infrastructure relating to agriculture businesses.

Narrowing the development gap between urban and rural areas was also a key item on the government’s agenda for 2020.

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