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IFC, Canadian government promote Laos

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The International Finance Corporation (IFC) on Friday held a workshop to promote investment in several key sectors in Laos. PHOONSAB THEVONGSA/THE STRAITS TIMES

IFC, Canadian government promote Laos

THE International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, and the government of Canada, in partnership with the Lao Ministry of Planning and Investment on Friday held a workshop to promote investment in several key sectors in Laos.

The workshop also aimed to guide the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) policy dialogue between the government, its development partners, the private sector and other stakeholders.

The workshop was co-chaired by Department of Planning and Investment director-general Manothong Vongxay, Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of Canada to Laos Timothy Edwards and IFC Country Manager for Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam Kyle Kelhofer.

The one-day event brought together experts from Canada and the IFC, senior government representatives, PPP practitioners and policymakers to share their knowledge on how PPPs can work as a viable tool in mobilising private investments.

With economic growth exceeding an average of seven per cent per annum over the past decade, Laos is one of the fastest growing economies in the East Asia and the Pacific region.

But with constrained fiscal resources and growing infrastructure needs, the government wants to mobilise investment from the private sector, which accounts for more than 80 per cent of Gross Domestic Product and is crucial to driving future growth.

Spearheaded by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, recent reforms, including a prime ministerial PPP decree and creation of a PPP Unit at the ministry, are expected to facilitate the implementation of PPPs in sectors such as infrastructure and health.

“Promotion of the PPP investment scheme, in a situation where the government is facing fiscal constraints, will help relieve the fiscal pressure resulting from the amount of investment needed to develop public infrastructure and deliver public services,” said Manothong.

“The PPP scheme will help to significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of investment projects, while mitigating exposure to different risks by the public sector throughout the project life cycle. Therefore, it will help to materialise the socio-economic development plan towards the vision of sustainable and green growth.”

Participants presented case studies from emerging economies on structuring and implementing PPP schemes in sectors ranging from transport and power transmission infrastructure to tourism and healthcare services.

This will provide inputs for the government’s next steps as it formulates its own PPP programme.

“For 30 years, Canada has been a pioneer in the use of public-private partnerships. We are proud to share our best practices so that Lao stakeholders can apply this innovative financing mechanism to major infrastructure and energy projects which will advance the country’s sustainable economic growth,” said Edwards.

“The IFC works with governments to help find PPP solutions that are tailored to the local context. We are committed to helping the Lao government through PPPs, thereby increasing the role of the private sector in the economy,” Kelhofer said.

“With extensive global experience and expertise in structuring PPPs to international standards, the IFC is well-equipped and keen to explore Laos’ power sector, especially transmission facilities, airport transportation and even unconventional sectors, including tourism and forestry.” VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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