Barriers to business must make way, Chamber urges

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) --The Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) has called on the government to address five identified barriers impeding business operations in the country.

During the recent Lao Business Forum (LBF), LNCCI president Mr Oudet Souvannavong told the government that the private sector had identified types of barriers that have a negative impact on business operations and competition.

“As the private sector has discussed at previous meetings, the viability of the SMEs engaged in the processing industry, agriculture, tourism, services, trade and transportation sectors has been threatened by the remaining unsolved issues,” he said.

Mr Oudet identified the five barriers as value-added tax refunds for export producers, an excise tax on internet usage charges, unregistered business operations, barriers to tourism development and value-added tax collection for the services sector.

These barriers above represented three different groups identified by the private sector.

According to recent discussions between the public and private sector in April, more than 80 additional issues were also raised by the private sector.

These had been summarised into six particular issues namely the high cost of trademark registration, high payments for registration for food and drug licences, policy on promoting start-ups, complicated procedures for import of raw materials, limited transport of product categories, and management and development of tourism businesses.

At the same forum, Mr Oudet reported that the implementation of previous LBF agreements, decrees and orders is likely to be slow, especially at the district and provincial levels.

“Some provincial authorities seemed to create new regulations to replace those issues that were recently removed, and this remains an endless problem,” he said.

Mr Oudet sought help from Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, who was present at the forum, to set up a special task force to evaluate the implementation of various agreements made at the LBF.

The Prime Minister told the private sector that the govt recognised the public and private sectors will have to work together to find solutions and to create a strategic plan to lead the promotion and improvement of the country’s business environment.

“The government will set up a plan to promote more effective governance as well as continue the implementation of the three-open policy, namely open door, open barriers and open mind,” he said.

Prime Minister Thongloun said the strategic solution for improving the business environment is to enhance coordination, collaboration and cooperation between the public and private sectors to remove critical barriers.



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