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Laos to draft new five-year development plan
Publication Date : 20-05-2013
The Lao government has set a target for economic growth of 8.5 to 9 per cent annually from 2016 to 2020 as it prepares to draft the eighth five-year national socio-economic development plan.
Officials at the Ministry of Planning and Investment said last week the government had assigned them to start drafting the new plan so that it would be ready for consideration and approval at the end of 2015 prior to implementation in 2016.
One of the main development targets the government hopes to achieve in the period 2016 to 2020 is economic growth of at least 8.5 per cent to 9 per cent, while per capita income should be US$3,200 by 2020, officials said.
If Laos cannot achieve these targets, it will pose challenges in graduating from least developed country status by 2020.
During the current seventh five-year socio-economic development plan from 2011 to 2015, the government targeted annual growth of 8 per cent. However, in the past two and a half years, 8.1 per cent growth was achieved in the 2011-12 fiscal year and 8.3 per cent in the 2011-12 fiscal year.
The Lao National Economic Research Institute projects that economic growth will exceed the 8 per cent target from 2011 to 2015 thanks to growing foreign investment, especially in the mining and hydropower industries.
“If all of the approved investment projects proceed as planned, I think our economy will meet the target or may even exceed 9 per cent growth if the high-speed railway projects planned for Vientiane to Boten and Savannakhet Laobao go according to plan,” Director General of the institute, Dr Leeber Leeb ouapao, said on Friday.
Other economists agree it is possible for Laos to achieve this high target, saying that the government has been successful in creating favourable conditions to attract private investment, which is key to boosting economic growth.
Laos is now a member of the World Trade Organisation and will be part of the Asean Economic Community, which will see the region become a single market and production base. The government has also built important infrastructure such as roads and bridges that will help the country to become a transit hub within the region.
Economists also say the hydropower, manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and service sectors will become the main drivers of growth.
The government has suspended new mining investment projects, which enables economists to include the mining sector as one of the driving forces of growth, they add.