PM centralises administration of Official Development Assistance in Laos

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) -- Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has endorsed a new decree which aims to centralise the administration of Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Mr Thongloun signed the Prime Ministerial Decree on the Administration of Official Development Assistance on October 9. The Lao Official Gazette, a website administered by the Ministry of Justice, published this decree on October 25. 

According to the decree, which is accessible on the website, the only state agencies authorised to approve the acceptance of foreign ODA are the government, the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This means that all central and local state agencies that wish to accept offers of grants or concessional loans from international development partners must get approval from the government or authorised state agency.

In the past, due to inadequate legislation, some state agencies, especially in local areas, accepted grants or borrowed money from development partners without the consent of the central authorities. As a result, some development projects were inconsistent with the government’s policies while others created debts for the government.

The decree on ODA administration states that the government is in charge of approving ODA funded projects that involve multiple ministries and central state agencies, while the Ministry of Planning and Investment is in charge of endorsing ODA funded projects proposed by ministry level bodies.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in charge of approving ODA funded projects proposed by international non-governmental organisations (NGO), associations, foundations, institutes, and clubs as well as individuals.

In addition, the foreign affairs ministry has the authority to cooperate with other ministries to decide whether local associations are eligible to accept international grants to carry out development projects in Laos.

ODA must be used to finance development projects that are in line with the national socio-economic development plan, constitution, and laws, the decree points out.

Apart from that, the implementation of ODA funded projects must be transparent and auditable as well as compliant with agreements drawn up between the government and development partners.

The decree also specifies that state agencies which are authorised to implement ODA-funded projects must set up a committee to oversee project supervision and operation as well as project evaluation.

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