Inflation Rate in Laos Dips Slightly to 24.98 Percent in March

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People at a local market in Laos. ( Photo ; Khonesavanh.KMV / )

Amidst a backdrop of economic challenges, Laos experienced a marginal decline in its inflation rate, dipping to 24.98 percent in March from February’s 25.35 percent, as reported by the Lao Statistic Bureau.

The latest data reveals that the clothing and footwear sector witnessed the highest price surge, soaring by 36.23 percent year-on-year. Following closely were the hotel and restaurant sectors at 35.90 percent and medical care and medicines at 34.61 percent.

Contributing to the inflationary pressures were alcohol and tobacco, registering a 26.42 percent increase, household goods at 26.39 percent, food and non-alcoholic beverages at 23.61 percent, and communications and transportation at 23.58 percent.

The primary driving force behind this inflationary trend is the weakened Lao currency, the kip, against major foreign currencies such as the US dollar, Thai baht, and Chinese Yuan, which are extensively utilized for imports in Laos.

Comparatively, the kip has depreciated by 18.6 percent against the US dollar and by 21.5 percent against the Thai baht compared to the same period last year. Additionally, increased fuel prices and inefficiencies in managing domestic goods and services pricing have exacerbated the situation.

In response to these challenges, Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, at the March cabinet meeting, pledged to address economic woes by boosting productivity, diversifying exports, and augmenting revenue from the mining and tourism sectors.

Despite the hurdles, the government aims to reduce the country’s inflation rate by 9 percent by the end of 2024.

In the first quarter of 2024, Laos recorded an overall inflation rate of 24.93 percent compared to the previous year, with January at 24.4 percent, February at 25.35 percent, and March at 24.98 percent.