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Investment permit process shortened in Lao province

Investment permit process shortened in Lao province

Authorities in Laos’ Savannakhet province have streamlined procedures that significantly shorten the time required to get a permit to start a business.

Investment permits for uncomplicated concession projects can be issued within 15 days instead of 65 days as previously required, according to the provincial Planning and Investment Department, citing the new procedures.

The new regulation has been piloted since late June to speed up permits to start a business across various investment categories in the central province.

“Savannakhet is one of the very first provinces that interpreted Prime Ministerial Order No 2 into its legislation to streamline the starting a business procedure,” director of the department Valiya Sichanthongthip told Vientiane Times recently.

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has issued Order No 2 to improve the business environment in an attempt to attract more investment and drive growth.

According to the new regulation, procedures to start businesses in various categories in Savannakhet have been reduced.

Investment permits for businesses on controlled lists can be issued within 10 days, down from the previous 25 days. Enterprise registration certificates can be issued within three days instead of about 10 days, just like investment permits for the processing industry and handicrafts.

Officials said several procedures and the time required had been cut, thereby streamlining the overall process.

Issuing a licence for investment in the agriculture and forestry sector is now reduced to just 10 days, while an investment licence for an architectural survey and design business can be issued within only seven days.

In addition, the issuing of construction permits is now shortened to just three days. The same applies to factory operational certificates.

Procedures to issue environmental certificates have decreased fivefold to just 10 days instead of the previous 50 days. The officials said previous procedures not only took longer but also cost investors more to process. This was because investors had to go through various state departments involved.

Valiya said a one-stop service mechanism had been introduced to facilitate investment and business operations in Savannakhet.

“Investors now just come to the one stop service and everything is done at the one point,” he said.

The officials are reviewing the implementation of the pilot scheme in order to draw lessons learnt. Savannakhet provincial authorities are currently focusing on improving the starting a business environment, which is one of 10 indicators the World Bank uses to assess the overall ease of doing business in countries across the globe.

Action is expected to take place in the near future to improve the remaining indicators, the officials said.

The government is intensifying efforts to improve the business environment to pursue the target announced by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith to lift Laos’ ranking on the World Bank index from the current 154th (out of 190 economies) to a two-digit ranking by next year.

VIENTIANE TIMES