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Revenue collection, timber auction dominate Govt meeting

Implementation of the revenue collection and expenditure plan, the auction of wood impounded by the government, and the upgrade of wood processing plants dominated the monthly government meeting yesterday.

Other hot topics tabled at the two-day meeting included the export of wood, a report on businesses that violate the law, and a draft amendment to the Electricity Law.

After revenue collection targets were unmet in the past four or five years, the government urgently looked at all possible sources of revenue and clearly defined them so that the 2017 revenue target could be met.

Since the revenue shortfall slowed the development process, the government took steps to fight corruption and plug the loopholes involved in revenue collection.

This year, the government is targeting revenue collection of 23.94 trillion kip and expenditure of 32.4 trillion kip, but much is still to be done to realise these goals. With regard to the wood seized by the government, its auction is critical as a source of revenue for the national budget. There is no official report regarding the exact amount of confiscated timber to be auctioned.

Since the prime minister issued Order No. 15/PM in May last year, a huge quantity of illegally harvested timber has been confiscated in various provinces.

The Order bans the export of unprocessed wood harvested from natural forests and requires that timber must be turned into finished wood products before export, according to standards set by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Since last year, the government has inspected hundreds of wood processing plants nationwide to ensure their operations meet production and environmental quality standards.

Officials said all plants must meet the set production standards and be located in areas permitted by the relevant laws and regulations.

At yesterday's meeting, cabinet members also discussed a draft Prime Ministerial Decree on the management of entertainment venues and places selling alcoholic beverages near educational institutions, hospitals, religious sites, and other important places.

Lao law already regulates this issue but enforcement is inadequate, which has led to public complaints.

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith addressed the matter in an attempt to protect young people and children.

The government meeting, which was chaired by Mr Thongloun and attended by other cabinet members, also discussed a draft amendment to a decree on the role of the National Transport Committee.

The meeting, which ends today, is also debating a draft decree on the role of river-port international border checkpoints, a draft decree on deposit protection, and a draft decision on the role of the Investment Promotion and Management Committee.

Also up for debate was a draft decision on the role of one-stop service administration offices in facilitating investment at the central and provincial levels, and the outcome of the State Auditing Organisation in examining the implementation of the State budget for fiscal year 2015-16.

By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update March 16, 2017)

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