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MPI organized an annual meeting discussed issues to better facilitate private businesses in the country

The Investment Promotion Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment has stepped up collaboration with other sectors to ensure much-needed reforms of the business environment and removal of unnecessary barriers.

As part of the efforts to achieve these goals, the ministry organized an annual meeting to review progress in implementing the 2021 action plan, reprioritizing key activities in 2022 related to implementing Orders 02/PM and 03/PM, and improving the One Stop Service and the controlled business list.

The meeting, chaired by the Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Mrs Khamchan Vongseneboun together with representatives from seven ministries, People’s Supreme Court, Electricite Du Laos, Lao Credit Information Company, Lao Securities Commission Office and concerned divisions of the Vientiane Municipality and the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry that are in-charge of implementing business environment reforms under the said orders.

In her keynote speech, Mrs Khamchan said the government supports the improvement of the business environment especially the ease of doing business in Laos to reduce barriers, time and the costs of registering businesses. “The goal of removing unnecessary barriers is aimed at attracting more qualified domestic and foreign investors, and this will eventually contribute to the implementation of the nation’s socio-economic development plan,” she said. During the meeting, the participants were reminded about the primary objectives of Orders 02/PM and 03/PM, and their overall achievements to date in implementing these directives.

The relevant line agencies have improved the coordination mechanism, and a number of laws and regulations were developed or amended based on each agency’s roles and responsibilities. The aim of these moves was streamlining procedures and reducing the associated time and cost of doing business in Laos.

At the same time, there has been great emphasis on the development of digital solutions that use ICT systems to improve government services. Along with these accomplishments, numerous challenges remain to be addressed collaboratively in order to accelerate progress and ensure that the government’s goals are met. This requires high ownership and a detailed action plan with clear tasks that must be completed in a time bound manner. The line agencies must embrace change and adapt to the “new normal” to ensure successful and effective implementation of the action plan in line with the current circumstances and an achievable approach.

In the meanwhile, authorities will continue to monitor and promote the effective and uniform execution of updated laws and regulations in order to contribute to the achievement of the National Socio-Economic Development Plan.

At the end of the meeting, Mrs Khamchan urged the relevant line agencies and sectors to focus on the implementation of Orders 02/PM and 03/PM despite the World Bank’s suspension of its annual ease of doing business (EDB) report. It is critical that key authorities in-charge of the 10 indicators and the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry continue to explore the existing methodology and assessment mechanism as a substitute to the EDB, she said.

Referring to Order No. 03/PM, it can be seen that, despite all line agencies having completed the establishment of the One-Stop Service Unit and being included in the Order 03/PM committee, the coordination and reporting system does not operate efficiently, Mrs Khamchan.

She urged the line agencies to revise and improve the list of controlled businesses by focusing on businesses that may affect national security, public order, national fine traditions, environment, society and nature. The agencies should precisely allocate responsibilities for issuing operating licenses between the central and local levels.

Another critical issue that must be addressed is the investment approval process, which still witnesses significant delays. As a result, this requires the amendment of portions of the Decree 05/PM, dated 05/01/2018, on the implementation and activities of the Investment Promotion and Management Committee, specifically Article 6 (personnel structure), Article 7 (timeline for considering applications for investment in controlled business), Article 8 (timeline for considering investment applications), and Article 10 (working approach). Furthermore, certain provisions of the Law on Investment Promotion, particularly Articles 37 and 46, were suggested for incorporation into the new decree.

According to the report 1079/MPI dated July 9, 2021, the revised draft was presented to the Prime Minister and is awaiting his consideration and approval.

Source: Vientiane Times, T4D