Vientiane authorities have pledged to carry out 30 large-scale development projects from now until 2025 in a bid to accelerate the Lao capital’s economic growth.
Most of these projects will be carried out through public-private partnerships under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model as the government is encouraging the private sector to build infrastructure and support the construction of other facilities.
Due to limited funding, the government is partnering with the private sector to finance development projects by offering incentives and improving the investment climate.
Vientiane mayor Dr Sinlavong Khoutphaythoune presented a list of the planned 30 mega projects at the 10th session of the Vientiane People’s Council, which took place from December 28-30.
Among the proposed projects are the creation of an agricultural park irrigated by water sourced from the Nam Houm reservoir, Ngum River and Mang River over an area of 200sq km; a railway and railway station; road links to the railway and expressways; and construction of a 15.3km expressway linking the Thatluang Marsh Specific Economic Zone to the Dongmakkhai area.
Other planned projects are the construction of a bridge across the Ngum River; the Vientiane-Thakhaek expressway; new roads connecting to the 450-Year Road and the airport; and construction of a river embankment to prevent flooding.
Also planned is the construction of a new international airport in Xaythany district. Other projects on the drawing board are a smart city; real estate development; Vientiane green and clean city project; an agricultural area in Pakngum district to grow crops for export; commercial parks; and tourism-related projects.
Over the past five years, Vientiane’s economy has grown by an average of 9.17 per cent, less than the target of 11 per cent, with annual per capita income averaging $6,000 this year. Industry grew by an average of 11.7 per cent over the past five years, the service sector grew by 8.21 per cent, and agriculture saw 4.21 per cent growth.
This year, the economy of the Lao capital and the entire country has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, slowing the growth of tourism and investment and trade with other countries. Several mega projects have been carried over the past five years, contributing to economic growth and poverty reduction efforts.
One of the main challenges to the development of Vientiane is the huge debt owed by the government to companies which have financed infrastructure projects. Another challenge is the length of time taken to give approval for a development project, which slows economic growth and the country’s development as a whole.
Vientiane is also suffering from a rising number of road accidents, drug use and trafficking, robberies, burglary, and disputes concerning land.
These issues require decisive handling and strong measures in order to maintain security and public order, which are important for the successful development of the capital in the future.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK