Ease irksome barriers to enhance business environment, PM advises
The Prime Minister has urged line ministries to remove any unnecessary barriers to help boost the country's business environment and promote domestic and foreign investment.
“The government is trying to develop a favourable business environment and simplify unnecessary procedures that are a hindrance to the operations of both domestic and foreign businesses,” Prime Minister Thongloun said when addressing the 10th Lao Business Forum in Vientiane yesterday.
He noted that Laos has been facing familiar challenges and obstacles, resulting in slow change and the ineffective promotion of a suitable business climate and suggested this was deterring foreign investors.
“For instance, the complicated and slow procedures involved in imports and exports has been a long-time issue, so the Ministry of Industry and Commerce should take action to deal with the problem,” he said, adding that if there was something they were unable to solve, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister were willing to give advice.
Mr Thongloun said these difficult issues could also be discussed at the monthly government meeting to seek proper solutions.
“By doing so, we will be able to maintain a stable macroeconomic environment as well as promote the establishment and expansion of new and existing businesses,” he said.
President of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Oudet Souvannavong, said the Lao Business Forum played a significant role in improving the country's business environment and that this was a platform for dialogue.
“Previously, four issues were raised by the private sector, while 14 issues are in the process of being resolved and another 13 issues still require more time to address,” he said.
Minister of Industry and Commerce Ms Khemmani Pholsena said improvement of the legal and regulatory environment was a prerequisite for the growth of private enterprise.
“Despite our past efforts, businesses still face a number of challenges associated with the ineffective enforcement of laws and regulations across the country,” she said, adding that the lessons learnt from past interventions and exploration would encourage more effective approaches in the years to come.
During the meeting, representatives from various Private Sector Working Groups reported on issues and proposed solutions to the line ministries.
Among the particular issues raised were business taxes, especially value-added tax (VAT) refunds, the excise tax charged for internet services, high logistics and transport costs, and cumbersome import-export procedures.
The lengthy procedures required to start a business, including enterprise registration and licensing, limited access to affordable finance by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and the lack of information about the labour market were also discussed.
In response to the issues raised by the private sector, the ministers and deputy ministers of various ministries were assigned to answer the questions.
At the conclusion of the half-day long forum, Mr Thongloun called for the private sector to sincerely share and discuss any unresolved issues so that solutions could be found.
“At the same time, the government should urgently help them because they can contribute to the socio-economic development of Laos,” he added.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update March 29, 2017)