Reduce Investment Barriers to Boost Provincial Development

Feb 10, 2015

Organic farming, food processing, tourism and education are just some of the private investment opportunities in Savannakhet Province. Photo: UNDP Lao PDR

Vientiane, 10th February, 2015 – Private investments are driving provincial socio-economic development in Savannakhet Province, with 36 per cent of total investment attributed to the private sector, according to the latest data from the Savannakhet Department of Planning and Investment Promotion. Savannakhet Province boasts investment opportunities in organic agriculture, food processing, tourism and education as well as Special Economic Zone opportunities. However, growth in private investment still faces significant policy, taxation and administrative hurdles.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)’s Poverty Environment Initiative (PEI), in close collaboration with the Investment Promotion Department of the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and the Department of Promotion Investment in Savannakhet Province are working to improve conditions for private investment through public consultation.

In December 2014, the PEI coordinated the first Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) aimed at assessing the various barriers experienced by investors when initiating or conducting business operations in the province. The meeting was attended by investors working in the manufacturing, agriculture-forestry, transportation, trade, education and construction sectors and provided a platform to share their knowledge and experience of conducting business and overcoming challenges. Participants were also encouraged to contribute to the government’s investment promotion planning for 2015.

Participants identified issues on the difficulties of doing business in Savannakhet Province, including the procedural and logistical constraints of obtaining Transportation Passage Permits, the shortage in the labor market, the need for laborers with assembly-line experience as well as the conflict of private education initiatives with the current Customs Law. Issues on taxation, accessing of government loans and the need for improved government procedures were also raised.

The meeting was chaired by Dr. Bounthavy Sisouphanthong, Vice Minister of MPI and Dr. Suphan Keomixay, Governor of Savannakhet Province. Speaking at the meeting, Dr. Suphan Keomixay encouraged the private sector to contribute actively to technology and skills transfer. Dr. Bounthavy stressed the importance of coordinating government agencies to monitor the compliance of business operations and encouraged the private sector to responsibly implement their investment projects. Private sector participants were also urged to improve competitiveness and contribute to human resource development in line with ASEAN standards.

The PEI is supporting the Government of Lao PDR to address the barriers identified by PPD participants in Savannakhet Province and to promote the quality of private investments to maximise economic benefits while minimising social and environmental impacts throughout Lao PDR. By working with the MPI, the  Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and local authorities, the PEI assists the government to better promote, screen, negotiate, monitor and enforce compliance to position ‘quality investments’ that support the development of a healthy, transparent, competitive and inclusive economy. The PEI also supports the National Economic Research Institute to strengthen their ability to undertake quality research to inform development and investment policy.
Contact information

Dr. Nathan Leibel, Chief Technical Advisor, UNDP-UNEP Proverty Environment Initiative (PEI) United Nations Development Programme, Located at MPI
Tel: +856 21 254 035

Ms. Chitlatda Keomuongchanh, Programme Officer, UNDP Lao PDR
Tel: +856 21 267 777

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