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State investment projects attract scrutiny

The government has announced it will prioritise State-funded projects to ensure the most effective and efficient use of the national budget.
Under the measures imposed to improve the efficiency of such projects, government-funded schemes which have not been implemented will be re-inspected.
If a project is considered to be inefficient in some way, its funding will be transferred to a more high-priority project, as agreed at the government’s monthly meeting which ended on Tuesday.
Chaired by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, the meeting reaffirmed the government’s determination to enforce the eight measures the government presented to the National Assembly earlier this month to stimulate economic growth. 
Enhancing the effectiveness of State investment projects is one of the eight measures the government is keen to impose, to ensure the best use of the budget.
One of the government’s main goals is to reconsider expensive and overvalued development projects and instead use the money for other initiatives, while maintaining the quality of development schemes.
In 2017, the government identified a number of overpriced projects, notably those relating to infrastructure development.
For instance, the construction cost of a 50-km road linking Luang Prabang town to Nan district had been charged at 343.6 billion kip.
Following an investigation, inspectors found that the construction work had been revised and the actual cost was 28 billion kip higher than the earlier figure.
Prime Minister Thongloun told the National Assembly recently that the government had lost billions of kip from overpriced projects.
Mr Thongloun is determined that the government will investigate various aspects of State-funded projects to see whether they are urgent or not, how much they cost, and the quality of construction, before placing them on a list for payment.
Mr Thongloun asked the Assembly to take part in investigations into overpriced projects to minimise loopholes which could cause further great damage to the nation.
During the government’s monthly meeting, cabinet members stressed the need to study and define the scope of budget for state-funded projects considered to be national-level, provincial-level and district-level priority schemes.
In addition, the government welcomed the participation of the private sector in jointly developing infrastructure projects under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model and Public-Private Partnerships.
This would ease the financial burden on the government amidst the country’s budgetary tension and rising public debt.
In addition, the government is considering mechanisms to re-select state investment projects to ensure the transparency and economic efficiency of these projects before asking the NA to approve them. 
In 2017, the government set budget expenditure at 32,402 billion kip, of which 5,463 billion kip was allocated for State investment projects.

By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update
June 29,
2018


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