Laos seeks investment to ensure 6.7% economic growth

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - To ensure that the country’s economic growth is on target and takes into account restructuring, the government should focus on research and development to improve the quality of agricultural production by deploying new technology.

The government needs at least 46,500 billion kip of investment or 26 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to drive the country’s economic growth at 6.7 percent next year.

This figure was revealed by the Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Souphan Keomixay, at a meeting of cabinet members, provincial governors and the Vientiane Mayor in the capital last month.

The funding expected from the government budget is about 5,300 billion kip representing about 11 percent of the total with about 10,500 billion kip or 22 percent from bank credit, he said.

“Bilateral and other agreements from Official Development Assistance (ODA) are expected to bring in at least US$800 million or 14 percent of the total funding and 23,900 billion kip, or 49.9 percent is expected from foreign and domestic investment,” Dr Souphan said.

To ensure that the country’s economic growth is on target and takes into account restructuring, the government should focus on research and development to improve the quality of agricultural production by deploying new technology.

New techniques should be adopted, quality seeds planted, and livestock breeding should be encouraged. The irrigation systems should be improved, especially in priority areas.

“The government should also focus on human resource development, especially upgrading the education system, offering teacher training courses, providing teaching aids and revising curriculums, and improve laboratory facilities,” Dr Souphan said.

The focus should be on rural development and poverty reduction. Investment by the private sector should be encouraged as well as joint ventures with the state to promote agricultural products for commercial sale, their marketing and the potential to create a value-added production chain.

These include cattle farming projects for milk and beef supply in Xieng Khuang province, tea processing projects in Phongsaly province, coffee and tea processing projects in Pakxong district, Champassak province and commercial bamboo shoot planting, he said.

He urged for improvement in rural infrastructure, support for food security and nutrition projects in rural schools and a boost to tourism.

The government should stress the implementation of mega projects that support integration and cooperation such as the Laos-China Railway and the Vientiane-Vangvieng expressway.

The government must also push for early implementation of other mega-projects such as the Vangvieng-Luang Prabang-Oudomxay-Boten expressway, Vientiane-Champassak expressway, the R3 parallel road expressway, No. 12 parallel road expressway from Thakhaek, Khammuan province to Nam Phao, Vietnam.

Other priorities include the Vientiane-Hanoi expressway, the Vientiane-Vung Anh railway, Nateuy dry port in Luang Namtha province, Thanaleng dry port in Vientiane, Thakhaek-Chong Mek dry port in Champassak province, the fifth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge, the Luang Namtha-Oudomxay modern city and Siphandone development zone.

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