The National Assembly (NA) has agreed to the government plan of maintaining Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at 7.5 percent or equivalent to 102.3 trillion kip.

The NA members approved the government’s report on the implementation of the socio-economic development plan (SEDP) for 2013-14 and its plan for next year at the closing of the session on Friday.

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The government has planned for the agriculture sector to increase by 3 percent, the industrial sector to increase by 8.9 percent and the service sector to grow by 9.1 percent not including the import tariff.

The government hopes to limit inflation so that it will not be higher than economic growth, through maintaining a stable currency exchange rate for the kip within a plus or minus 5 percent range.

The trade deficit is set to be around 4.1 percent of GDP, while the foreign currency reserves will cover imported goods for at least five months.

The government plans for rice production to reach around 4 million tonnes, with 13.2 trillion kip of mineral production in the next fiscal year.

Economics dominated the NA debate at the session due to the challenging issues the state budget has been facing.

The NA expressed their support for the government’s measures in implementing the SEDP in the next fiscal year through actions such as: attracting investment, enforcing tougher finance disciplines, commercial production promotion and controlling goods directly related to the population’s livelihoods.

The plan hopes to address the economic difficulties that the country is facing, especially in regards to the budget deficit.

Meanwhile, the NA has also instructed the government to undergo additional measures such as rechecking the debts in development projects and determining which projects were complete in order to prioritise them in debt repayments.

The NA instructed that 35 percent of the allocated budget for investment projects should be used to pay completed projects in the next year, as they have been delayed for a long time.

The budget to be allocated to newly approved projects should also not exceed 10 percent of the total value of domestic investment.

The priorities include the projects for poverty reduction and Sam Sang (Three Builds).

The NA also stressed the fact that the government was prohibited to put projects, which are unapproved by the NA and signed after December 21, 2012, onto the list of new investment projects.

However, the government was instructed to study each project and bring them to the NA Standing Committee for consideration.

In regards to bank loans, the NA reminded the session that the Bank of the Lao PDR implements a policy on loan provisions, which aims to promote commercial production in agriculture, handicrafts and processing industries in small and medium size enterprises.

The NA session also approved the adjustment of the domestic revenue target from 20.1 trillion kip to 19.2 trillion kip in this fiscal year.

The session approved the State Audit Organisation’s work plan for 2013-14 and the next fiscal year.

They proposed that the organisation continues its regular training to improve the technical expertise of auditors, improve the regulations related to auditing measures and standards, as well as improving coordination mechanisms between the organisation and others.

Four laws were approved by the NA at the session including two newly drafted laws on Anti-Money Laundering Combating and the Financing of Terrorism and the Law on Independent Auditing.

The amended draft for the Law on Customs was not passed as the NA members were divided on the amendments, especially in regards to the status change of the customs service units from the current zoning system to being overseen by provincial departments and offices.

NA members also commented on the government report in relation to forest classification.

They recommended that the concerned ministries improve the report, which aims to increase forest cover to 65 percent of the country’s area by next year and 70 percent by 2020.

The NA has approved the reports from the Supreme People’s Prosecutor Office and the Supreme People’s Court on the last day of the session, after the approval was postponed for a week due to the NA resolution being incomprehensible.

The report on the works of the NA for 2013-14, as well as the plans for 2014-15 was also approved at the session.

The NA session also app roved the Prime Minister’s proposal on new appointments including, the appointment of Politburo member Dr Bounpone Bottanavong to Deputy Prime Minister, Politburo member and Minister of Education and Sports Dr Phankham Viphavanh to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister to the Government Office Dr Sinlavong Khoutpha ythoun as Mayor of Vientiane.

The seventh ordinary session of the NA’s Seventh Legislature closed on Friday after sitting for 15 days.

At the closing ceremony, NA President Ms Pany Yathortou highlighted the outstanding efforts, achievements and performance of the NA members, government officials and mass organisation representatives at the session.

The immediate interaction between NA members and ministers, as well as the immediate responses of concerned officials to public queries were seen at the session.

Source: Vientiane Times
Published on July 28, 2014