Prime Minister Thongloun has advised line ministries to eliminate futile procedures in an effort to improve the business environment in Laos.
When addressing the 10th Lao Business Forum in Vientiane earlier in the week, the Prime Minister stated that the government is attempting to develop a suitable business environment that will simplify unnecessary procedures that are a hindrance to domestic and foreign business operations.
He pointed out that Laos has been grappling with needless challenges and obstacles, suggesting to foreign investors that the country is an unsuitable business climate thus deterring potential foreign investors. He added, “for instance, the complicated and slow procedures involved in imports and exports has been a long-time issue, so the Ministry of Industry and Commerce should take action to deal with the problem,”
PM Thongaloun made it clear to the relevant officials that if a solution could not be found for an issue, both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister are prepared to be relied upon as a resource and inclined to give advice on the dilemma.
“By doing so, we will be able to maintain a stable macroeconomic environment as well as promote the establishment and expansion of new and existing businesses,” he said.
Mr Oudet Souvannavong, President of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, stated that the Lao Business Forum played a crucial part in developing the country’s business environment and that this was a platform for dialogue.
“Previously, four issues were raised by the private sector, while 14 issues are in the process of being resolved and another 13 issues still require more time to address,” he said.
Minister of Industry and Commerce, Ms Khemmani Pholsena,explained that development of the legal and regulatory environment was essential for the growth of private enterprise.
She mentioned that despite past efforts made, businesses still face a multitude of challenges associated with the unproductive laws and regulations that are reinforced across the nation. However, insight from past interventions and exploration should encourage more effective approaches in the upcoming years.
Representatives from various Private Sector Working Groups reported on issues and recommended a course of action to rectify those issues, to the line ministries during the course of the meeting,
Among the issues raised, were business taxes, particularly value-added tax (VAT) refunds, the excise tax charged for internet services, high logistics and transport costs, and inconvenient import-export procedures.
The tedious and outdated procedures required to start a business, including enterprise registration and licensing, limited access to affordable finance by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and the lack of information regarding the labour market were also topics up for discussion.
Prime Minister Thongloun concluded the half-day forum by encouraging the private sector to genuinely share and discuss all unresolved issues so that they can be resolved, especially since he believes that the government should be eager in assisting them because it will contribute to the socio-economic development of Laos.