Over the last few years, 1,146 state departments and units at various levels were disbanded to streamline the structure of state organizations and provide better governance.
The government had also vowed some years ago to reduce the number of civil servants which would further ease its organizational structure. According to 2019 statistics, Laos had a whopping number of 184,871 civil servants, which was 2.8 percent of the population, making it the ASEAN country with the second-largest number of civil servants after Brunei.
This number did not account for soldiers, police officers, volunteers, and employees of state-owned enterprises. Minister of Home Affairs, Dr. Thongchanh Manixay said in a recent session of the National Assembly that although downsizing efforts had been progressing well, cutting down on the number of public servants was moving slower than expected.
“Though many state departments have been merged, civil servants were just re-allocated to another department. To reduce the number of public servants, the government has decreased the annual quota for recruiting new civil servants in recent years,” he said.
As per 2022 statistics, Laos now has 175,058 civil servants (including 83,066 women), a slim decrease from 2019 figures.
On Friday, 34 departments at the central level were dissolved and their work and responsibilities were transferred to other similar departments. Also, 72 divisions were combined with other divisions.
Around 18 departments, 60 divisions, and 406 units were dissolved at the provincial level and in the districts, 556 departments were merged with others, informed Dr. Thongchanh while adding that doing away with similar departments had helped in improving the quality of public services.