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PM orders inspection of procedures at border crossings
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has called for the formation of a taskforce to carry out checks at border crossings in a bid to facilitate cross-border trade and services, while plugging revenue leaks.
The premier issued the instruction as part of the government’s work plan for May, at the cabinet’s monthly meeting for April, which took place last week.
The taskforce will collect information and make recommendations to address issues that have caused problems at border crossings and resulted in the loss of government revenue.
The move is aimed at maximising revenue collection by closing loopholes in the payment of tariffs and taxes, while improving services and trade across borders.
Outlining the focus of work for May, Mr Thongloun told the relevant departments to summarise the business operations of state enterprises and make recommendations as to how their performance could be improved.
Their reports will be presented to the Politburo of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party.
Mr Thongloun has told the National Assembly that reforming state enterprises, most of which have been operating at a loss, is a priority in his cabinet’s agenda. The premier said the government would no longer subsidise state enterprises that consistently perform poorly, and would seek ways to reform them.
As part of this reform, the government has allowed private businesses to form joint ventures with some state-owned enterprises.
Authorities in charge were also told to review the management and operation of 12 special and specific economic zones to speed up their progress and identify ways to overcome problems in order to maximise benefits.
Mr Thongloun also called on authorities to keep a close watch on the construction of the Laos-China railway to ensure that work progressed as planned. In particular, he asked for urgent action to compensate people who are being displaced to make way for about the 414-km railway.
Meeting participants were told to continue to improve tourist sites in ways that ensured their sustainability, and to take steps to address issues that hinder the development of the tourism industry. Tour operators have long complained that tourism police continue to require them to get permission from the police before bringing in tour groups, despite the government revoking this requirement. Operators who have failed to seek permission have been fined by police. Another persistent complaint concerned the number of checkpoints set up along roads by police, which resulted in inappropriate fines being meted out for various reasons.
Mr Thongloun also told the meeting it was important to carry out more checks on goods imported from neighbouring countries, especially foodstuffs, to prevent the import of food contaminated with harmful substances.
The authorities were also told to carry out inspections at slaughterhouses and local markets to ensure that goods and foodstuffs were hygienic and fit for public consumption.
In addition, the prime minister stressed the need to continue efforts to control the emission of PM2.5 particles, which have been polluting the atmosphere for many weeks.
Ministries were told to impose precautionary measures to prevent the outbreak of disease, including dengue fever and animal diseases.   
The meeting was also told to focus on drafting and amending laws for submission to the National Assembly, to clarify issues raised by members of the public via ministry hotlines, and to take action to prevent encroachment into forests.

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update April 30, 2019)

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