Laos-China Railway Asks Govt Permission to Use Foreign Currency

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Laos China Railway officially launched today
The Laos-China Railway.

The Laos-China Railway Company has asked the government of Laos to allow it to use foreign currency for its transactions.

Vientiane Mai reports that the Laos-China Railway Company (LCRC) asked the government to address a number of pressing issues regarding railway operations, including the sale of train tickets and payment of transportation fees and other expenses in local currency.

Due to the continued depreciation of the Lao kip, the LCRC has informed the government it wishes to make and receive payments in foreign currency.

General Manager of the Laos-China Railway Company, Mr. Yuan Minghao, said during a visit by Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Sonexay Siphandone on Wednesday that the company has begun facing a number of difficulties since the launch of the railway, which it hopes the government of Laos can help to resolve.

“We have requested that the Bank of the Lao PDR provide for the sale of train tickets, as well as transportation payments and other costs, in foreign currency. We also hope to expedite duty-free import authorization,” said Mr. Yuan Minghao.

The company said that it had proposed the government allow it to receive payments in foreign currency or local currency exchanged at market rates.

“At the same time, we encourage the government to assist in reducing negative publicity regarding the railway,” Mr. Yuan Minghao added.

The railway found itself in hot water early this year when the government of Laos ordered an investigation into ticket sales after receiving hundreds of complaints from the public.

Passengers using the Laos-China Railway had complained of long queues at ticket sales offices, sometimes stretching out into the streets, as well as inconvenient ticketing systems that did not allow for return trips.

Following the government’s intervention, LCRC announced that it would allow passengers to purchase tickets three days in advance for the route between Vientiane and Boten.

Meanwhile, reports suggest that more than 1,700 passengers travel daily along the railway from Vientiane to Boten, with some days seeing as many as 2,800 passengers.

The Laos-China Railway has recorded a total of 113,827 passengers since its opening and generated CNY 12.98 million (USD 2,041,170) in revenue, according to Mr. Yuan Minghao.

Mr. Yuan also said that freight transportation on the Laos-China Railway is scheduled for seven stations, with three of these now operational, namely Vientiane, Vang Vieng, and Nateuy. These have transported some 139,422 tons of freight, or over 2,000 tons per day, since the railway’s opening, generating revenue of CNY 48.84 million (USD 7,680,817).