The Lao government has decided to establish a national rice bank to prevent rice shortages and ensure adequate supply for domestic consumption by, among other things, allocating fund to buy rice directly from farmers.
The cabinet also decided during the June monthly meeting to seek ways to help improve the performances of state-owned food companies. In order to ensure stable supply and prices, the ministers agreed to set up a task force to control prices of rice and other staples necessarily to the daily lives of the people.
In addition, the government will increase credits for the agricultural sector by at least 400 billion kips to bolster food production and encourage more foreign investments in the agricultural sector by exempting taxes on income, profits, imports and exports. By taking these measures, the government aims at boosting this year's rice production to no less than 2,840,000 tons. If this goal is achieved, it will leave Laos an extra 500,000 tons of rice to export.
In macro-finance, the Lao government has set a GDP growth goal of at least 8% for this year. But with fuel prices continuing to rise worldwide, officials fear impact on foreign investments will delay growth. Therefore, the government pledged during the June meeting to do all it can to help accelerate existing foreign investment projects as well as those in the feasibility study phase, particularly in the energy and mining sectors.
Minister of Planning and Investment Soulivong Dalavong says the government will do everything to mobilize and facilitate investments by the private sector in development, by setting up a one-stop service, allowing on-line application for concessions, adjusting investment laws to conform with other laws and making them more attractive to foreign investors, among other things.
Editor's note: This is a summarized translation of the report in Lao by Songrit Pongern. For more details, click on our audio files.