Laos Government Affirms Commitment to Preventing Default

Laos Prime Minister's Office in Vientiane Capital
Laos Prime Minister's Office in Vientiane Capital

The Government of Laos has reiterated its pledge to avoid default, with relevant agencies being directed to take more proactive measures to address the country’s economic problems.

Vientiane Times reports that ministries were told to address macroeconomic vulnerability and debt repayment at a two-day monthly cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh last week.

Ministers were instructed to exert every effort to ensure a consistent supply of fuel across the country and to better control volatile currency exchange rates.

The responsible sectors should place a greater emphasis on establishing market pricing ceilings for goods and coming up with innovative solutions to pay off the nation’s public debt, particularly debts incurred by state enterprises,” said Government Spokesperson Mrs. Thippakone Chanthavongsa when speaking to the media.

She said that the country is committed to avoiding default, and therefore must not create new debts.

The government also spoke about the investment environment, saying that it must do more to encourage private investment in Laos and ensure that current investments progress well.

Cabinet members agreed that encouraging foreign investment would help bring more foreign currency into the county, enabling Laos to more easily pay its debts and import fuels.

Meanwhile, the cabinet meeting discussed ongoing problems with the Laos-China Railway, particularly issues pertaining to ticketing, with the railway company coming under fire from the public in recent weeks after admitting it has managed ticket sales poorly.

Cabinet members also discussed the impact of flooding upon the country, which has damaged roads and bridges in several provinces. Poorly maintained drainage systems in Vientiane Capital have also left residents knee-deep in water, with the meeting agreeing that the issue must be resolved.

Several key papers were approved during the meeting, including the five-year plan for passing and amending laws, as well as a strategic cooperation plan between the Government of Laos and the World Bank.

Documents related to concession activities were also discussed in relation to the government’s attempts to address the country’s financial problems.

The government reiterated its stance on promoting austerity and resolved to cut spending on state vehicles, government meetings, visits abroad by delegations, and receptions for foreign delegations visiting Laos.

American credit rating agency Fitch Ratings downgraded Laos’ status early this month as it believes the country is now more vulnerable to default on financial obligations.