10th Lao Business Forum – Important Milestone in Government and Private Sector Cooperation
Updated on : 05-04-2017
The 10th Lao Business Forum met on 28th March 2017 at Donchan Palace Hotel, Vientiane Capital to discuss progress in resolving issues facing the private sector and to present government’ plans on improving business environment.
The half-day meeting, which was organized by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MOIC), in collaboration with the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), drew more than 300 representatives from the private sector, government and donor agencies.
During the meeting, H.E. Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister of Lao PDR, who chaired the Forum, spoke about the need to improve laws, regulations and procedures in order to accelerate investment and sustainable private sector growth. “In addition to maintaining a stable macro-economic environment, we have to pay more attention to improving the environment for doing business in our country, and promote the establishment and expansion of new and existing businesses. This will ensure that we create sufficient employment opportunities to absorb new entrants to the labor market – an estimated 90,000 persons per year over the next 10 years – and the expected release of labor from our agriculture sector.”
Mrs. Khemmani Pholsena, Minister of Industry and Commerce, stated that improving legal and regulatory environment is critical pre-condition required for private enterprise growth. “Despite our past efforts, businesses still face a number of challenges associated with ineffective enforcement of laws and regulations throughout the country. These include inconsistency in procedures for enterprise registration and licensing, taxation, importing and exporting, and inconsistency between central and local authorities’ practices. These issues have become significant obstacles to the creation and expansion of enterprises, which in turn has implications for job creation and poverty reduction. Similarly, in the area of capacity building for SME owners and managers, we need to learn lessons from past interventions and explore more effective approaches in the future.”
Mr. Oudeth Souvannavong, President of LNCCI, acknowledged the important role of the Lao Business Forum in improving the business environment. “Since restructuring of dialogue process last May, we have been able to resolve 04 issues raised by the private sector, 14 issues are on the course of being resolved, and 13 issues require more research and time to address. We are especially encouraged by the enthusiasm of the government and its representatives to address our concerns and recommendations.”
Four groups of issues were raised by the private sector during the Lao Business Forum. These include: 1) business taxation, especially implementation of VAT refund and excise tax on Internet services; 2) high transport cost and cumbersome import export procedures; 3) lengthy procedures for starting a business, including enterprise registration and licensing procedures; and 4) limited access to affordable finance by SMEs and lack of information on labor market.
Representatives from relevant line Ministries provided concrete responses to all the issues raised by private sector representatives.
H.E. Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister of Lao PDR concluded the forum by announcing a number of government decisions to address specific issues raised by private and promised that the government would take all the issues raised at the Forum into consideration and emphasized necessity of continuing this constructive dialogue in the future.
Source: Department of Planning and Cooperation, Ministry of Industry and Commerce
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