FEATURE: Laos is developing relentlessly

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Under the guidance of the Party and State over the past 44 years, the people are happy and proud to see that the country is continuously developing.

In many ways, the country’s development is making good progress and is strong. The economy is recording continuous growth and today’s society is developing every day.

As set in motion by the Party and State, Laos is on track to achieve its development goals as planned. This has been especially evident in the last four or five years, as the development of infrastructure to connect to neighbouring countries is advancing at a strong pace through national investment.

The Laos-China railway, expressways, national roads, airports, harbours, and logistics systems are being built, along with local roads, industrial estates and food production sites. In addition, other necessary infrastructure is intertwined with clean agricultural production.

One thing that stands out in terms of government efforts is the rate of economic growth, which is on track to reach 6.4 percent this year, while average per capita income rose to US$2,683.

However, the growth rate is 0.3 percent less than the target figure of 6.7 percent set for 2019, while the target for per capita income was set at US$2,726.

An economic growth rate of 6.4 percent is expected to be achieved by the end of the year, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith told the ongoing meeting of the National Assembly.

“This is less than the goal approved by the National Assembly, but it reflects continuous good growth. Importantly, however, this growth is of good quality,” Mr Thongloun said.

Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone reported on economic growth in all sectors.

With regard to tourism, some 3.4 million tourists have visited Laos so far this year, which is 11 percent more than in the same period last year. Accommodation and restaurant services grew by 5.3 percent due to Visit Laos-China Year 2019.

The construction sector is expected to grow by 16.8 percent thanks to the under-construction Laos-China railway between Vientiane and the Boten-Mohan border crossing at the Chinese border. The 414-km railway slices through north-west Laos, passing through the provinces of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Luang Namtha.

The railway is scheduled for completion at the end of 2021 and will be the first rail route linking Laos to China’s network.

In terms of agriculture, the livestock sector has grown by 4.3 percent, forestry by 0.8 percent, and fishery by 4.8 percent. But the crop sector grew by only 2.3 percent, which was down by 0.7 percent as a result of floods last year.

In the health sector, the goal for 2020 is for 85 percent of people to have access to clean water. And the government also hopes to train about 70,000 people in various job skills.

There are currently 1,266 domestic and foreign investment schemes in operation, valued at 20,304 billion kip (US$2,307 million).

Before achieving sovereignty and self-determination that allowed Laos to make its way in the world, for many years Laos battled oppressive foreign powers who sought to subjugate the country before Laos repelled all enemies and achieved liberation in 1975.

After many years of battle against the French, Laos declared its independence to the world on October 12, 1945.

But only a few months later, new aggressors returned to Laos and the struggle for freedom began for a second time.

Following the decisive defeat of the French and the Geneva Accord of 1954, the Americans began a campaign of aerial bombardment and Laos once more found itself under attack.

President Kaysone Phomvihane and the Party Central Committee led the fight against this second assault and set up the liberation forces’ command centre in Viengxay district, Huaphan province.

With the growth of the revolutionary forces, on March 22, 1955, the Lao People’s Party, (today called the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party), established their stronghold in the caves and mountains of Huaphan province.

In 1964, US bombardment intensified and in the ensuing nine years a total of 580,000 bombing missions were conducted over Laos during the Indochina War.

Viengxay is now well known as the former stronghold of the revolutionary movement throughout the Indochina War from 1964-73. 

Almost everyone has a deep longing to visit Viengxay and see the place where their country was born and try to relive the years of struggle and hopes as the revolutionary leaders took on and outwitted their supposedly superior attackers.

Viengxay is a district in mountainous Huaphan province in the northernmost part of Laos. Many people have heard about its historical and political associations as well as its majestic scenic beauty.

A smile can be seen on the faces of Lao people when they visit Viengxay, the place where the nation was born in 1975, and today it is a great source of interest among both domestic and foreign visitors.