NA session opens with the economy a hot issue

Published on July 8, 2014

The government debt payment measures will be the hottest issue of debate at the ongoing seventh ordinary session of the National Assembly (NA) due to the issue challenging the state budget.

The session opened yesterday in Vientiane and will continue until July 25.

President Choummaly Sayasone, Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong , along with other senior Party and government officials, parliamentarians and invited guests attended the opening ceremony.

In her opening remarks, NA President Ms Pany Yathortou highlighted the economic instability in the world, while the country is stepping up to the conclusion of implementing the Seventh Five-Year National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP).

She noted the fluctuating world economy, disease outbreaks and natural disasters, which have continued happening, have direct and indirect impacts to the growth in the region and in the world.

Minister of Planning and Investment Mr Somdy Duangdy, in his report to the National Assembly about the implementation of NSEDP over the past six months, also highlighted the outstanding achievements such as a 7.6 percent predicted economic growth for the 2013-14 fiscal year and 91.5 trillion kip of additional value, with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita standing at US$1,692.

Regarding the government debt to development projects, Mr Somdy did not reveal the exact amount but said the initial calculation had shown that the amount was reasonably high.

The government is facing pressure from the debts it is due to pay for project development, including a number of projects it has implemented without the approval of the NA, in the midst of a revenue short fall which has grown in recent years and is expected to continue again in the 2013-14 fiscal year.

With regard to the debt payment plan, which will be implemented in the next fiscal year, the ministry has agreed with the Ministry of Finance to hand the responsibility of the payment to sectors and local authorities, with at least 35 percent of the future allocated budget to be used to pay the debts. The focus will be on completed projects.

Moreover, some provincial sectors and local authorities will need to divide the budget they will receive from the government to fund projects which may result from the amendment of the investment plan for 2013-14. This is expected to be done at the current NA session.

The issues taken to the NA for consideration and approval at the session also include the reports on the implementation of socio-economic development, budget plans for 2013-14, plans for next year and the amendment of investment plan for 2013-14.

The NA is also set to exercise the appointment and reshuffle of government members proposed by Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong.

They will have initial debate on arrangements in the three categories of forestry such as protection, biodiversity and production forest.

NA members will also comment on the report of the State Audit Organisation works for this year and their plan for coming years, the reports of the Office of People Prosecutors and People’s Court, as well as the report on the NA’s activities.

Two newly drafted laws to be put into NA debate are the Law on Anti-Money Laundering Combating the Financing of Terrorism and the Law on Independent Auditing.

The amended drafts of the Law on Value-Added Tax, Law on Customs, Law on Standards and the Law on Petitions will also be debated at the session.

Representatives from 12 ministries will also undergo a question and answer session by NA members and members of public.

The NA session will run until July 25, members of the public can raise their concerns to the session through the free hotline: 156, fax: 021 452627, postal box: 662 and email: na_session@na.gov.la.

Source: Vientiane Times
Published on July 8, 2014