Better roads to ease access to tourist hotspots, improved urban water supplies and sewage treatment are among the sweeteners revealed in the announcement of funds totalling $125.5 million for three projects in the tourism and urban sectors announced by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Lao Government.
Agreements were signed by Deputy Minister of Finance Ms Thipphakone Chanthavongsa and ADB Country Director to the Lao PDR Mr Yasushi Negishi at a ceremony in Vientiane. Representatives of the nation’s Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Planning and Investment; Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT); Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism (MICT); and other line ministries also attended the event.
The announcement comes after the ADB forecasted a revision in Laos’ economic growth rate to 6.6% as floods dampened prospects in September’s Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2018.
Managing urbanization, tourism, attracting investments for vibrant, livable cities and towns
“Vibrant, livable cities and towns play an important role in the development of industry and services, particularly manufacturing, agribusiness and tourism”, Asian Development Bank‘s Lao PDR Country Director Mr Yasushi Negishi told the gathering.
“The three grants demonstrate ADB’s commitment to help the Lao PDR sustainably manage urbanization, tourism, and attract investments that create good jobs in a wide range of economic sectors, helping the country to be eligible to graduate from the least developed country status.”
The $47 million grant for the Second Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Tourism Infrastructure for Inclusive Growth Project will support MICT’s efforts to rehabilitate last mile access roads to tourism destinations, improve tourist-related urban environmental services, and enhance sustainable tourism management in Louangphabang, Vientiane, and Champasak provinces. The grant was approved by ADB’s Board of Directors in August 2018.
The project’s climate resilient transport and urban infrastructure investments and support for tourist-related capacity building are designed to boost tourism development and deepen the Lao PDR’s economic integration with neighbors in the GMS and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Meanwhile, a $48 million grant for the Fourth GMS Corridor Towns Development Project to improve urban environmental services, including the construction of wastewater treatment plants and sewerage networks, solid waste management, and river embankments for flood protection in two corridor towns of Pakxan and Thakhek will be implemented by MPWT.
Approved in September 2018, the project will also support the preparation of town master plans with climate-resilience and gender-responsive measures for both areas to support growth and regional connectivity.
A third grant, amounting to $30.5 million, is an additional funding for an ongoing ADB-assisted Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project also to be implemented by MPWT.
This additional financing will expand access to safe and reliable water supply and sanitation services in six towns in Attapeu, Xekong, Huaphan, and Luang Prabang provinces, as well as improve the operational and financial efficiency of provincial water utilities in the provinces.
According to the Bank’s press statement, the “ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2017, ADB operations totaled 32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in co-financing.”