Public service improvement high on Lao gov’t agenda

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The government has vowed to continue its efforts to improve public services, with many citizens calling for government officials to be more conscientious with regard to service delivery.

According to a media release from the government’s Public Relations Department issued at the end of the monthly cabinet meeting on August 19, improvement of public services is targeted for particular attention in the coming months.

In addition to drumming up the political will to improve public services, the cabinet instructed ministries and other state agencies to address the comments sent to them through hotlines as well as social media, the media release said.

The government has decided to place public service improvement on its working agenda after many complaints that government officials neglected their duties while others were very slow to provide assistance.

A number of businesspeople complained that the process of obtaining permission to set up and operate a business takes a long time, and demanded that the government address this administrative barrier to economic growth.

Executive Vice President of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Davone Phachanthavong, told Vientiane Times the business community wanted the government to support their operations by addressing illegal trade.

He said the improvement of government services for business operators would make Laos an attractive investment destination.

As part of the government’s efforts to improve public services, many government-run entities, notably hospitals, have initiated activities to improve their services to win public satisfaction.

Some public hospitals are now displaying banners carrying strongly-worded slogans which convey the message that serving patients is the paramount duty of doctors and nurses.

The messages also instruct people not to offer gifts to doctors in order to receive faster attention, but say doctors must see patients on a first-come, first-served basis.

One of the important steps taken by the government recently to improve public service delivery is a prime ministerial decree on the ethics and morals of civil servants, demanding that government officials serve people with integrity and sincerity.

The decree also discourages officials from abusing their power and using their position to delay service delivery.

Observers say the government’s efforts to improve public services are very positive. But they also say the government should clarify the procedures required for citizens to obtain public services and make sure people know how to follow these procedures.

One businesswoman told Vientiane Times there should be a clear regulation regarding the procedures involved in obtaining a business licence.

If the authorities want to levy a fee, they should make it clear how much must be paid in order for authorities to process a licence more quickly.

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