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Commerce ministry addressing undocumented foreign businesses

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce is on a mission to address the number of foreign-owned businesses which have opened their doors without the proper operating permit.
The commerce minister, Mrs Khemmani Pholsena signed a ministerial advice on June 12, ordering provincial and district industry and commerce departments to undertake the work this month.
According to the ministerial advice, published on the Lao National Gazette website on June 18, provincial and district industry and commerce departments must assign officials to inspect the operations of foreign-owned businesses to see whether they comply with Lao laws and regulations.
In cases where foreign-owned businesses are found operating without a business registration certificate and license, the owners will face a 10 million kip fine.
In addition, the business owners must sign an agreement with officials to obtain the legal documents within 90 days. If they fail to fulfil this agreement, they will face another 10 million kip fine and ordered to shut down permanently.
Registered and licenced foreign-owned businesses who operate outside their approved areas, will face a 3 million kip.
Additionally, they must commit to adjusting their operating licenses in accordance with their actual operational areas. Firms who fail to follow their commitment will face a 5 million kip fine and be ordered to shut down permanently.
Foreigners engaged in business activities reserved for Lao people will be asked to sign a document, which will be then forwarded to the social welfare sector and public security. These officials will consider the deportation of the documented foreign traders.
According to the ministerial advice, local commerce officials will officially report to the commerce ministry about its implementation within 135 days so the ministry can provide further guidance on the issue.
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce plays a central role in coordinating with relevant sectors concerned with regulating the private sector and establishing an enabling business environment.
The government has vowed to improve the business environment to encourage private sector investment. However, one of the challenges is the number of foreigners operating businesses kept for local people such as hairdressers and beauty salons.
The government has announced a list of controlled businesses, which are subject to government monitoring and regulation. With the list, businesspeople will find it easier to run and operate businesses, which are not under the control list.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update June 21, 2019)

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