The government has explained to the National Assembly (NA) revenue shortfalls

INTRO: The government has explained to the National Assembly revenue shortfalls made in the implementation of the socio-economic development plan since the previous ordinary NA session.

STORY: Government representatives presenting yesterday at the ongoing fifth NA session included Minister of Planning and Investment, Somdy Duangdy, Minister of Finance, Phouphet Khamphounvong, Bank of the Lao PDR Governor, Somphao Phaysith, Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Dr Sisaliew Savengseuksa, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Dr Akhom Tounalom, and Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Ty Phommasak.

NA members raised concerns over losses to the state budget caused by project developers importing materials for commercial purposes, such as fuel with tariff exemptions.

Minister of Finance, Phouphet Khamphounvong, admitted revenue from tariffs on imported equipment and materials, especially fuel, has been decreasing in recent years because of violations of the Law on Investment Promotion. He reminded NA members of Article 52 in the law, which states imported fuel of all types is subject to tariffs and taxation, but vehicles which will be used directly in production only will be exempt.

However, The Minister of Finance, said, the import of materials and vehicles receiving tariff exemptions was widespread. He said legal fuel importers who paid the tariff could not sell their products because gas stations were instead buying fuel from development projects at a lower price, which was reducing government tariff revenue.

Phouphet Khamphounvong, said the main reason behind the loss was authorisation on project material imports without calculation and assessment of a project’s actual fuel needs.

Business taxation was also a concern for NA members, who suspected a loss to state revenue from cheating taxation officials and business operators. The Minister of Finance, admitted the taxation system had a loophole leading to losses, as officials can make negotiations and agreements with entrepreneurs and business owners.

According to him, most of the businesses subject to the tax were small and medium-sized enterprises, with Savan Vegas Hotel and Entertainment Complex – set to pay US$700,000 per year – the only large one.

To NA queries concerning industry and commerce, Dr Sisaliew compared the current situation of commercial production to that of the 1970s, while NA President Ms Pany Yathortou who chaired the session instructed him to discuss the policy on commercial production promotion in poor districts and the amendment of related regulations.

Dr Akhom read a report on his ministerial duties, while the meeting chairwomen requested he talk about the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry’s measures to respond to environmental impacts from large development projects.

Dr Ty briefed the meeting on commercial production and individual agriculture projects, land specialisation for certain crops, the construction of the crop yield stockpiles and processing facilities.

The Ministers of Education and Sports, Health, Labour and Social Welfare, and Information, Culture and Tourism also presented to the NA.

Source: LNTV Lao News in English