Lao govt to take stronger action to revitalise stagnating economy
Vientiane, Jan 23 (IANS) The Lao government has outlined the 2023 work plan, vowing to take stronger action to revitalise the stagnating economy, notably by stabilizing currency exchange rates, curbing inflation, and amassing more revenue to boost its spending power.
The pledge is part of the government's continuing efforts to fulfil the goals of its two national agendas, which aim to ease the country's economic and financial difficulties and stem the rising tide of drug trafficking, reports Xinhua news agency.
The government will absolutely not allow the country to default on its debts, government spokesperson Thippakone Chanthavongsa was quoted by the Lao national TV as saying on Monday after a two-day meeting.
Chaired by Lao Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone and attended by cabinet members, provincial governors and representatives of various state agencies, the meeting discussed ways to minimize the vulnerability of the country's macro-economy to external shocks.
Meeting participants agreed to speed up the digitalisation of revenue collection and create new sources of revenue while working harder to minimise financial leaks.
A greater focus will also be placed on repaying money owed by the government to private companies that carried out state-funded development projects.
The repayment of these debts would give these companies greater liquidity so they have sufficient capital to finance more development schemes.
In addition, the government will not launch any non-essential state-funded projects, but will instead concentrate on poverty reduction programs.
Another priority on the program for 2023 is the continued reform of state-owned enterprises, improvement of the investment climate, and a push for further progress in approved foreign-funded development projects.
It was essential to promote productivity, as well as the processing of agricultural produce for export, while also reducing imports, according to the report.
Inflation has been high in Laos since the beginning of 2022, which climbed from 6.25 per cent in January to 7.31 per cent in February, 8.54 per cent in March, 9.87 per cent in April, and 13.81 per cent in May.
In December 2022, inflation in Laos surged to 39.3 per cent year on year, the highest last year, according to the latest report issued by the Lao Statistics Bureau.