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Attapeu province eyeing private investment to boost growth

Attapeu provincial authorities are seeking to boost private investment in order to accomplish their five-year socio-economic development plan from 2016-2020.
Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Souphan Keomixay held discussions with Attapeu provincial authorities on Monday to review the five-year plan and identify priority tasks in order to realise the set goal. 
The minister also called for relevant authorities to formulate timely development plans to ensure quicker implementation of various programmes.
Dr Souphan visited three projects in Saravan, Xekong and Attapeu where he pushed for greater development in those regions. Provincial authorities need to the identify potential of their areas and concentrate on realising that potential to boost economic growth. 
Director of Attapeu Provincial Department of Planning and Investment, Mr Soulichan Phonekeo told Vientiane Times on Tuesday that the province had encountered a number of challenges in efforts to realise the five-year plan.
“State investment programmes have not progressed as stipulated in the five-year plan due to the country’s revenue shortfall,” Mr Soulichan said. 
In 2016, about 40 billion kip was allocated for state investment programmes, notably poverty reduction, permanent land and job allocation for villagers.
In 2017 and 2018, only 35 billion kip was allocated for the state investment projects, which was much lower than development requirements.
One of the main challenges for Attapeu is a lack of infrastructure, particularly road access to villages and tourism sites.
“We have many tourism sites but the road access to those sites is very difficult. It’s really hard for us to attract more tourists to the province,” Mr Soulichan said.
In order to sustain economic growth in the province, Mr Soulichan reaffirmed that Attapeu would need to proactively attract additional private domestic and foreign investment which currently represented 60 percent of total investment in the province.
Foreign companies are mainly investing in hydropower, tourism development and resource sector projects.
Attapeu is a relatively poor province located in the far south of Laos. The province faced economic slowdown last year following the full enforcement of the Prime Minister’s Order No. 15.
The order bans the export of all types of unfinished wooden products including timber and logs. Timber businesses have ceased operations as they cannot export the raw materials.
Nevertheless, the PM’s order is good news for Laos in the long-term as it is hoped to enable the nation’s forest cover to return to 70 percent by 2020.
This year, Attapeu provincial authorities hope to attract about 150,000-200,000 visitors and have planned a number of tourism activities to mark Visit Laos Year 2018.
If more tourists visit the province, it could boost the services sector and tourism development in years to come.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update
February 14,

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