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Energy, mines to remain key drivers of Lao economy

Energy, mines to remain key drivers of Lao economy

The Lao government should persist with its promotional policy for investment in the energy and mines sectors as they are key income earners for Laos’ economic growth, one of the country’s leading economists has said.

Dr Phouphet Kyophilavong of the Faculty of Economics and Business Management at the National University of Laos also pointed out that the Laos-China railway will play a significant role in boosting the country’s potential to attract investment, trade and tourists.

He told Vientiane Times last week that the economy will remain stable this year as the government had done its best to improve the business climate last year.

“The economy will be healthier this year, as the trade dispute between the giant powers, the US and China, is slowly being resolved, and our domestic issues are being properly resolved, especially improvement of the business environment for various sectors,” he said.

Dr Phouphet, who is Vice Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business Management, urged the government to continue its promotional policy for the energy and mines sectors as they are the nation’s main income-earners.

“The two important sectors of energy and mines are the most essential earning sources for us during this period of economic turbulence. So it is important for the government to move forward with implementation of its policies for these sectors,” he said, adding that more domestic and foreign investors are key players in these fields.

He reiterated that the government should gear up to continue its promotional policy to attract more domestic and foreign investments in these sectors, and to strengthen measures for win-win business relations with investors alongside the implementation of dam safety inspections.

Fortunately, the stability of the macro-economy is sustaining overall economic growth of the economy in the wake of drought, floods and external factors last year, Dr Phouphet said.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines recently reported that it is still giving priority to increasing the frequency and quality of dam inspections to ensure their safety and to encourage the construction of environmentally-friendly hydropower plants to ensure green growth and sustainable development.

Minister of Energy and Mines Dr Khammany Inthirath said the ministry has successfully inspected 73 hydropower plants with a total installed capacity of 9,531MW and which generate more than 50 billion kWh per year.

Last year, more than 6,000MW was exported and the construction of 12 hydropower plants was completed. These includes the Xayaboury dam and the Nam Ngiep 1, Xepien-Xe Namnoy and Don Sahong power plants.

About 27 hydropower projects are currently under construction and are expected to be complete in 2020 and 2021, the ministry says.

At several important meetings, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has noted that the business sector is a key factor for the country’s economic development. He has promised to continue improving the business climate with the cooperation of the public and private sectors to remove barriers to growth.

Dr Phouphet concluded that the general climate for business operations in Laos will be better this year if the macro-economy is properly and effectively managed in relation to major investments in railway and hydropower projects.

VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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