[9 Sept. 2012] - The Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) is increasingly opening up to regional and international markets to achieve its ambitious macroeconomic goals. This is also reflected in the 7th Five-Year-Plan 2011-2015 (National Social and Economic Development Plan, NSEDP) and its sectoral strategies. By 2020, Lao PDR aims to no longer be a Least Developed Country. The land and natural resources of Lao PDR receive great attention from economically strong neighbouring countries in the region (China, Vietnam and Thailand). Accordingly, the 7th Five-Year-Plan aims to provide approx. 50% of investment needs through Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). The focus is on natural resource based and land based investments like mining, development of the hydropower sector, and investments in agriculture and forestry.
Until today, the coordination amongst Laos Government agencies and the flow of information is characterized by inflexible and bureaucratic processes. The fulfilment of the targets set in the development plan however rely to a large extent on a close coordination between the sector departments on various levels, but also on finding ways to communicate efficiently with the private sector (both, domestic and foreign).
The Land Management and Rural Economic Development (LM-RED) program, a joint project between the Government of Laos PDR and the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ) project aims to improve the coordination between different Laos Government agencies on national and sub-national level to implement cross-sectoral strategies and measures for poverty-oriented rural development that take into account the opportunities and risks associated with the influx of these investments. Towards this aim, the programme facilitated the learning of representatives of different line agencies at national and provincial in Laos PDR to on good practices in planning, investment promotion, investment strategies, and rural economic development.
As part of the programme, GIZ LM-RED has cooperated with Economica Vietnam to organized two study tours for representatives of the Government of the Laos PDR to An Giang. The study tours are focused on such issues as the followings:
Interdepartmental Coordination: Coordination of different sector departments in the planning process on province level, Development of sector strategies with contributions from different technical departments, Implementation planning on province level, Governance of (foreign) direct investments, improvement of local economic governance and PCI.
Approaches for inclusive Rural Economic Development: Fostering pro-poor and environmentally sustainable economic growth in rural areas, decision making on priorities in agricultural development on provincial level according to national development goals, public-Private Dialogue on provincial level, defining quality criteria for Investments, benchmarking of competitiveness on province level, schemes for public-private partnerships (focus on the agricultural sector), Ecologically responsible promotion of selected agricultural products with a high potential for poverty reduction.
Standard Operating Processes: the process of socio-economic development planning, cross-sectoral investment promotion and monitoring, participatory planning processes and the inclusion of social and environmental aspects into decision making for investment projects.
Under the coordination of Economica Vietnam and hosted by the Provincial People's Committee of An Giang, the first study tour will take place from 10 to 15 September and the second one from 24 to 28 September 2012. The study tours benefit from the overall festive atmosphere in which Vietnam and Laos are celebrating 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two country, (5/9/1962-5/9/2012), “Vietnam – Lao Friendship and Solidarity Year” and 35th Anniversary of the Vietnam Lao Friendship and Cooperation Treaty (18/7/1977-18/7/2012).