Laos: State budget spending tightened in Xayaboury

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The replacement of expensive imported alcoholic beverages with the nation’s local varieties when welcoming official guests to festive events is among frugality measures adopted by Xayaboury province amid nationwide efforts to stem excess state expenditure.

The provincial governor, Mr Phongsavanh Sitthavong recently issued a Decision on Frugal Expenditure of State Budget to impose additional measures demanding its subordinate departments tighten state spending to exercise budgetary thrift.

State departments under provincial management must utilise their offices when it comes to organising meetings and avoid holding conferences in commercial venues where possible, according to the decision.

They must seek approval from the provincial administration before holding annual meetings while limiting numbers of attendees to appropriate levels to restrict expenditure.

“The frugality measures indicated in the decision are the most concrete ever imposed. They will help save the state the budget significantly,” Mr Phongsavanh told Vientiane Times yesterday.

The decision translates the National Policy on Frugality to the provincial level, he said.

The state departments are prohibited from organising parties or receptions to celebrate the success of their meetings.

The departments are not allowed to use state budget to purchase expensive and imported gifts for well-wishing local and foreign guests on the occasion of traditional festivals as well as International and Lao New Year. Gifts to be purchased to wish the local and foreign guests on such occasions must be locally made to promote local production, according to the nine-page decision.

“The decision will be the uniform measures to guide frugal practices in the province,” Mr Phongsavanh.

The departments are told to use locally-made distilled rice liquor if necessary when hosting receptions to welcome local or foreign guests instead of expensive imported spirits.

Spending of state budget including loans, grant and financial contributions from non-government organisations and members of the public must be in line with the decision.

The departments were told to restrict numbers of officials to participate on trips to work in localities or foreign countries, and such trips must be scrutinised to minimise expenditures.

The decision stipulates the avoidance of duplicate spending when officials come on trips to work in localities.

Provincial officials taking trips financed by provincial budgets must ensure that district authorities do not allocate budget to welcome them.

Such allowances will not be granted to those officials and security officers serving traditional or national festivals as well as those providing services to welcome leaders or foreign guests as the services are deemed as routine tasks of officials.

The departments are prohibited from purchasing unnecessary new office equipment or furniture.

In the case such a purchase is deemed necessary, the departments are required to buy locally-made products instead of the imported ones where possible. The decision has demanded that state purchases or repairs to state vehicles must undergo open bidding practices.

The departments are instructed to carry out regular inspections into any administrative spending and service fees to avoid duplicate expenditure as it was the case in the past years.

Authorities in charge are told to maintain close inspections of the civil servants to ensure proper spending on salaries and supporting salaries and allowances are reflected in actuality.

Xayaboury has been active in translating the National Policy on Frugality, being the first province to successfully withdraw excess vehicles from provincial leaders after the Party and state leaders agreed to return luxury vehicles as part of the frugality drive.