NA President Urges Better Economic Zone Management


President of the National Assembly, Ms Pany Yathotou has stressed that all relevant government organisations need to urgently improve their administration and coordination mechanisms to better facilitate investment.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment and the National Committee for Special and Specific Economic Zone Management, which form the secretariat responsible for overseeing these developments, should resolve any troubling issues early in order to ensure transparency and boost confidence among investors, Ms Pany said.

The NA president offered the advice during a visit to the That Luang Marsh Specific Economic Zone in Vientiane yesterday.

Also present for the visit were Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Khamlien Pholsena, President of Vientiane People’s Council, Dr Anouphab Tounalom, Acting Head of the National Committee for Special and Specific Economic Zone Management’s Secretariat, Mr Sonepaseuth Daravong along with other government officials from the relevant sectors.

Previously, the government has issued investment promotion policies and declared it will implement a variety of regulations but many sectors have been unable to follow the rules and regulations which apply to them.

Most of the policies and regulations were approved by the National Assembly and considered as good policy but they have not been properly enforced due to a lack of cooperation and the failure to properly implement the single window system.

The issue is causing many investors, and especially foreign investors, to experience challenges in their business operations and some have subsequently shifted to invest in neighbouring countries as they provide better policies and can manage investment in line with their regulations.

Proposed improvements to remedy the situation include important articles in the draft of the Special and Specific Economic Zone Management Law which is set to be proposed to the National Assembly meeting at the end of this month.

To encourage more investment for the nation’s benefit and for socio-economic development, Ms Pany asked the committee secretariat to solve any issues which are disappointing investors and to clarify any rules or principles which remain unclear.

In the past, the government has continued to improve promotion policies for special and specific economic zones, causing their number to increase.

The Savan-Seno Specific Economic Zone in Savannakhet province was the first SEZ introduced in Laos, which is managed under the Prime Minister’s Office.

Over the following years, further zones were introduced including the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone in Bokeo province and the BotenDankham Special Economic Zone in LuangNamtha province under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, as well as the Vientiane-Nonthong Industry and Trade Economic Zone under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Implementation in that period met many difficulties and the zones could not attract many investors to invest, Mr Sonepaseuth reported.

During the eight years between 2002 and 2010, only 21 companies were recruited with a combined investment value of about US$20 million, while the government received about US$1.2 million in royalties, he said. After the government established the National Committee for Special and Specific Economic Zone Management in 2011, the committee has focused on dispute resolution, improving the policies and regulations as well as drawing up strategic plans for development and promotion.

The country currently has 12 special and specific economic zones, with a total investment value of US$1.6 billion from domestic and foreign investment. Of this figure, about 38 percent is in the service sector, 34 percent in industry and 28 percent in commerce, said Mr Sonepaseuth.

The same day, the delegation also visited the Vientiane-Nonthong Industry and Trade Economic Zone and the Xaysettha Development Specific Economic Zone in Vientiane.

Source: Vientiane Times