March 03, 2018

Swift action to fill national coffers called for as Cabinet meets

By:  Souksakhone Vaenkeo, Vientiane Times, February 22, 2018

A meeting of the government’s executive cabinet has endorsed a call for swift and immediate action to speed up the employing of modern technologies and equipment for revenue collection in an attempt to close loopholes and revenue leaks and maximise revenue collection.

The cabinet issued the advice yesterday following the conclusion of its two-day ordinary monthly meeting for February.

Loopholes for revenue leaks remained, resulting in violations, the meeting heard.

It was an accepted fact that errant state officials had utilised these loopholes for personal gain or to help favoured businesses avoid paying due taxes, government spokesman Prof Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher told local media shortly after the meeting.

The advice came as the government looks into ways to respond after failing to collect enough revenue to meet targets in recent years.

“In the past, we have not been strict enough,” Dr Chaleun said.

The meeting told ministries and sectors concerned to take action to realise 12 cooperation deals between Laos and Vietnam that were signed during the 40th meeting of the Laos-Vietnam, Vietnam-Laos Cooperation Committee last month in Vientiane.

The deals, once realised, will see Vietnam import significant volumes of electricity and facilitate joint development of hydropower projects in Laos.

Meanwhile, Vung Ang Port is a cooperation project in Vietnam’s central Ha Tinh province that will enable landlocked Laos to more easily access sea trade routes.

Ministry of Public Works and Transport was told to work with the Chinese side to properly carry out the construction of the Laos-China Railway project to ensure the completion of the 409-km rail project can come to fruition by the scheduled date set of December 31, 2021.

The ministry was told to coordinate with provinces and provincial People’s Councils to accelerate the defining of compensation rates and payment of the compensation as due to affected villagers.

The meeting heard a report on the comprehensive development plan of Bolaven Plateau and suggested ministries and sectors concerned analyse significant potentials in each zone to be promoted as tourism sites, agricultural production sites and more.

Upon completion of the analysis, the plan will be submitted to provincial People’s Councils of the provinces where the plateau is located to seek feedback and later seek further guidance from politburo of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party.

The meeting considered and discussed reports on the status of the macroeconomy.

A draft plan for the construction and expansion of Phoukhoun district’s municipality in Luang Prabang province was also mulled.

Cabinet members also considered an infrastructure development master plan of the National University of Laos (Dongdok campus).

A draft Prime Ministerial Decree on coordination between ministries, Vientiane Administration, provinces and the Prime Minister’s Office was also tabled at the meeting.

The meeting agreed on the need to strive to maintain macroeconomic stability while managing exchange and inflation rates.

The relevant departments were told to take urgent action to study interest rates on bank loans to ensure they were conducive to business operations while introducing a mechanism to make it easier for firms to access finance.

Ministries and sectors were asked to continue streamlining procedures to improve the ease-of-doing-business climate to attract more investment while those responsible were called on to monitor and manage goods prices in local markets.

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