Lao PM urges ministries to prepare for economic challenges

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith on Tuesday praised the country’s planning, investment and finance sectors and urged everyone to keep up their good performance.

However, the prime minister said there were plenty of tough challenges coming up, for which everyone should be prepared.

He reviewed the implementation of the government’s plan to promote investment and boost revenue collection in the wake of widespread flooding last year.

The premier offered his advice and recommendations at the annual meeting of the planning and investment, and finance sectors, which also reviewed past achievements and unveiled the implementation plan for 2019.

 “Despite the fact that Laos was severely threatened by natural disasters, international issues and uncertainty in fuel prices last year, making it difficult for the government to fulfil the annual socio-economic plan, it did an impressive job,” Mr Thongloun said.

“With regard to the finance sector, although revenue collection fell short of the target, officials did a fair job, while the investment sector also did well as a number of foreign-owned projects are operating on a large scale,” the premier said.

Mr Thongloun said Laos was now halfway through the implementation of the 8th Five-Year National Socio Economic Development Plan for 2016-20.

He urged ministry officials to strictly implement the government’s policies, to renew their dedication and work to resolve the remaining challenges.

“We are now chasing time because we have two more years to complete the National Socio-economic Development Plan,” he added.

To achieve the goals, the ministries of Finance, and Planning and Investment will have to speed up their work with local authorities to further seek solutions to unresolved issues and challenges.

Mr Thongloun said that various government decrees, prime ministerial decrees and resolutions could be used as medication to inject into the nation’s economy and make it healthier.

“To make sure the plan is successfully implemented, ministry officials will have to carry out field visits to ensure all practical implementation is carried out more actively and transparently,” he added.

This year, the government is expected to meet the target for revenue collection with a total of 26,305.29 billion kip or 16 percent of GDP and is also trying to improve public financial management.

Another important goal is for domestic income to reach 24,240 billion kip or 14.65 percent of GDP. Expenditure is set at below 33,394 billion kip or 20.18 percent, while the budget deficit is projected to be 7,088.78 billion kip or 4.28 percent of GDP. The government plans to invest about 44,347 billion kip of its budget, or 26.8 percent of GDP, in 2019 to ensure the country’s steady economic growth, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.