New State Projects Under Scrutiny
Though the Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Souphan Keomixay, has recently acknowledged that the demand for national development in the country is on the rise, new project proposals for 2018 submitted by State sectors and authorities threaten to plunge the country into further debt.
To avoid accruing unnecessary mounting debt, government officials have requested for all State organizations and provincial authorities to propose only essential projects which are vital for the development of their sectors.
Vientiane authorities and the provinces have been directed to prioritize state investment projects in response to the demand for national development and poverty reduction of local people.
Concerns have been raised about provincial projects reporting figures and costs that have been inflated in an attempt to extract additional funds from the government.
Critics scrutinize that many of these projects are unnecessary and offer poor value for money and are only submitted in the anticipation of receiving more funds.
As of August this year, 16 ministries/ministry equivalent organizations and five provinces submitted 1,095 project proposals to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, totaling more than 7.93 trillion kip (over 950 million USD).
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Planning and Investment has instructed all sectors to submit their proposals and funding requests by this month in order for projects to be presented to the next National Assembly session in October.
Failure to submit proposals on time could delay project implementation, as only those approved by the parliament will be granted permission to proceed when the new year begins.
In previous years, officials approved an abundance of projects related to the construction of new public offices, roads, bridges, irrigation systems and power transmission lines.
Dr Souphan recommends for State sectors to diversify projects into other areas, while utilizing the existing budgets to complete current infrastructure projects.
In regards to technical development, the government has instructed State sectors to ensure that projects avoid overlapping one another. Critics have added that the thorough inspection of State investment projects is critical, given that numerous construction projects have previously overspent on their budgets exponentially.
The National Assembly approved over 5.46 trillion kip for State investment projects in 2017. Of the total figure, 3.3 trillion kip is sourced from the State budget to carry out 6,497 projects.
From January to June of this year, 3,592 projects worth over 1.78 trillion kip have been completely implemented, equating to 32.6 percent of the yearly plan.
The government will allocate 3.8 trillion kip which will be sourced from the State budget to carry out development projects in 2018. In addition, the government will source another 9.09 trillion kip from Official Development Assistance (ODA) to carry out projects to boost economic growth to at least 7 percent next year.