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Govt turns to research to accelerate poverty alleviation 

The authorities are looking to make use of studies undertaken by think tank experts to help formulate plans and expedite poverty alleviation after learning that poverty reduction is making slow progress.
The Poverty Reduction Fund (PRF) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has initiated the research concept on community-based poverty reduction, inviting Lao experts to compete in the field.
Seven teams of researchers from universities and the PRF were shortlisted to compete in the presentation of research papers, which is scheduled to take place tomorrow at the Confucius Centre, National University of Laos. Three or four teams will be selected to carry out the research.
The move is seen as a significant step as state authorities are increasingly aware of the need to make use of think tanks and get them involved in policy making and planning.
Financially supported by China, the research would include lessons learnt in poverty reduction, notably lessons learnt over the 16-year operation of the Poverty Reduction Fund – the government’s core poverty fighting body.
“We also want to find out why we are slower than neighbouring countries,” said Mr Chit Thavisay, Executive Director of the PRF, referring to the slow pace of poverty reduction.
The research will be the second of its kind following the first, whose findings were presented in October this year.
In addition, the authorities are seeking foreign experts to carry out similar research.
The findings of the research carried out by Lao and foreign experts will be consolidated and taken into account when drafting the poverty reduction plan and the 9th five-year National Socio-economic Development Plan for 2020-2025, of which poverty alleviation is an integral part.
National Assembly members have stressed the need for the government to place more importance on scientific research and make use of think tank experts to drive development.
In its recent eighth ordinary session, parliament approved a resolution stipulating that 26 billion kip, representing one percent of normal state investment, should be allocated for scientific research. 
According to Mr Chit, since the introduction of the Poverty Reduction Fund, some 800,000 people living in more than 2,000 villages in 55 districts of 10 provinces have benefitted.
Some US$187 million (US$1.65 trillion kip) has been spent to finance the Fund’s activities over the 16 years of its operation. The money has come from the state budget, grants and low-interest loans from foreign countries and international financial institutions.

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update December 25, 2019)

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