The World Bank Group on Thursday presented its new Country Partnership Framework for 2023-26 to support Laos in its efforts to stabilize the economy, share the benefits of economic growth more equitably, and sustain development progress.
The framework outlines a program of project finance and advice, building on over 60 years of partnership between Laos and the World Bank Group, laying out areas for work that include supporting vulnerable households and sustainable livelihoods, and promoting inclusive access to nutrition and health services, especially for women and children.
Chairing the event, Mme Phonevanh Outhavong, Deputy Minister for Planning and Investment, said, “Under this Country Partnership Framework, the World Bank Group will support job creation, education and skills, health, and social protection, while helping the government protect the environment. These are the priorities for helping Lao people through the current serious situation.”
The program was prepared in consultation with the government, civil society, the private sector, and development partners and is aligned with the poverty reduction strategies in Ninth National Socio-Economic Development Plan.
“Laos has been hit by economic difficulties and global crises that threaten to increase poverty. Under this Country Partnership Framework, the World Bank Group will support job creation, education and skills, health, and social protection, while helping the government protect the environment. These are the priorities for helping Lao people through this serious situation,” said Mariam Sherman, World Bank Country Director for Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos.
The Country Partnership Framework notes that Laos faces significant economic and public debt challenges and that a more dynamic and competitive private sector will be crucial to generating additional jobs.
“With its high public debt levels, Laos needs to improve the investment climate to create the right conditions and policies for the private sector to flourish, create jobs, contribute to government revenue, and play a greater role in driving sustainable economic growth,” said Kim-See Lim, IFC Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific.
The new framework includes an intensive program of technical advice on macroeconomic and debt-related policies so that public resources are available for health, education, and social protection. It also looks to support better management of natural resources, which are essential to the livelihoods of over 80 percent of the Lao people.
As of 30 June 2022, the World Bank financing portfolio in the country included 24 operations with a total committed amount of USD 903 million. IFC’s committed portfolio stands at USD 34.6 million, in the infrastructure, manufacturing, and banking sectors. Since its first investment in 1998, IFC has invested over USD 108 million in Laos.