Lao National Assembly Urged to Work Hard for AEC Integration

By Somxay Sengdara | Source: Vientiane Times
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Thongloun Sisoulith has called on National Assembly members to be a driving force in strengthening Laos’ preparedness to join the ASEAN Economic Community.

Sisoulith made the call yesterday when reporting to the NA on the country’s preparation to join the AEC in 2015.

“I call on the National Assembly as a legislative body and all assembly members who have a role in overseeing the administrative bodies to support the process of building the AEC,” Sisoulith said at the session with the NA President and Vice Presidents in attendance.

The activities the deputy prime minister wants the NA members to enhance include the oversight of law establishment and enforcement, state budget amendments and the drafting of new laws so they are more comprehensive, and work for social and economic advancement.

He also advised the NA to boost the amendments to the existing laws and new drafts so they conform to international integration.

At the meeting, Sisoulith briefed members on the positive conditions and advantages of the country regarding its preparedness to join the community, which includes the right direction as instructed by the Party, especially on the Renovation Policy, adoption of the market economy and lessons learnt in the past 20 years.

Political stability, social order, the country’s geographic location and the abundance of natural resources are included among Laos’ advantages.

“Political stability and social order are the main facilities for development, so we are urged to maintain this,” he said.

Other conditions mentioned by the deputy prime minister are the huge investment by the government into infrastructure and the assistance from friendly countries, international organisations and financial institutes.

The AEC will bring on tough competition with free passage of goods and services within the region along with the unrestricted movement of labour.

He also reminded members on aspects the country needs to improve, saying that Laos is the least developed among the ten ASEAN members, while education levels of its citizens remain low compared to others. Laos also has the least developed trade and banking system, disadvantages in bargaining, insufficiency of skilled workers and a substandard social welfare system.

The country’s transportation infrastructure, including roads, border checkpoints and transit services, have not met the requirements to make it safe and easy to travel.

With regard to economic development in general, Sisoulith said the national economy is fragile and always at risk.

He said with joining the AEC trade sector, products should be improved in both quantity and quality and the production cost lowered.

“To reach all of these goals, transparency is required,” he stressed.

Regarding finance and currency, he advised the government to review the value-added tax policy and ask whether it supports or hinders economic development, and if released bank loans were used for their purposes or not.

He continued onto industry and agriculture, saying the sectors should prioritise their production based on their potential while avoiding the concept of producing too wide a variety of goods when just a few can be concentrated on for better quality.

In conclusion, the deputy prime minister admitted the weakness in administrative mechanisms which should have been broken through according to the resolution given by the 9th Party Congress, saying this may bring harm to the country when joining the AEC.