The Vientiane Times
Private sector investment in Phongsaly province in the far north of Laos has witnessed a slowdown since the economic setback in China driving down the prices of several products. The decline in global demand, particularly in China has discouraged entrepreneurs from that country coming to Laos and operating businesses here. Director of the Provincial Department of Planning and Investment Mr Khamlek Chay-isane told Vientiane Times on Sunday the investment sector is mainly driven by hydropower and commercial agriculture production. In the first quarter of this year, some 97 investment projects have been carried out by domestic and foreign entrepreneurs valued at US$277 million. In addition, the government has approved 144 State investment projects to be carried out in the province worth 61 billion kip. All these projects should contribute to driving provincial economic growth this year.
Infrastructure development for transportation connectivity, telecommunications, along with the power, education and health sectors will all be the focus of Asian Development Bank in its continuous assistance to Laos in upcoming years. Director General for ADB’s Southeast Asia Department James Nugent disseminated this plan in his interview with Vientiane Times and Lao News Agency last week on the sidelines of a ceremony held in Vientiane to mark the 50 year partnership between ADB and Laos. “We will continue the work on regional infrastructure, both in hardware and software,” Mr Nugent said on the ADB’s future cooperation. He pointed to projects which ADB had cooperated on such as development of the East-West Economic Corridor, road, rail, telecommunications and power sector.
Health officials are investigating a report that human sperm has been imported into Laos, a senior government official has said. Lao law prohibits the trade of human organs including blood and sperm, Director General of Health Care Department under the Ministry of Health Associated Professor Dr Chanphomma Vongsamphan told Vientiane Times on April 24. Thai media reported on Saturday that a man attempting to smuggle what is believed to be human sperm out of Thailand to another fertility clinic in neighbouring Laos was arrested recently. Mr Nithinon Srithaniyanun, the courier, told Thai authorities that he had picked up sperm from four clinics in Bangkok for delivery to another fertility clinic in the Lao capital of Vientiane, Thailand’s The Nation reported, citing the authorities in charge. Mr Nithinon was earlier arrested by authorities at the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge checkpoint in the northeastern Thai province of Nong Khai where he attempted to smuggle six tubes of what is believed to be human sperm stored in a frozen nitrogen tank into Laos.
Food security and control in the country has been boosted with the first official National Food Safety Laboratory opened on Monday in Vientiane. The new laboratory is the first of its kind in Laos, serving as a ready reference centre for the control of food quality throughout the country. The new laboratory commenced construction in 2015 with 1,200 m2 through grant assistance provided by the French not-for-profit Fondation Merieux (Merieux Nutri Sciences) at a cost of about US$1.5 million. It comes as part of the organisation’s commitment to protecting global populations from food-borne diseases.
Children will receive free healthcare treatment at government hospitals this year according to a new government policy aiming to reduce the rate of mortality of children under five. The policy known as the Strategy and Action Plan for Integrated Service on Reproductive Maternal, Newborn and Child Health focuses on pregnant women and their access to more healthcare services at hospitals and dispensaries across the country and also provides free-of-charge care to children, particularly newborns and children under five, heath officials have confirmed. Director General of the Hygiene and Health Promotion Department under the Ministry of Health, Dr Phath Keungsaneth spoke to Vientiane Times by telephone on Friday on the importance of the new policy.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday hosted a meeting to discuss the outcomes of the three latest summits held under the cooperation frameworks between Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The summits included the eighth summit of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam plus Myanmar or CLMV and the seventh summit of CLMV plus Thailand also known as the Ayeyawaddy-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy that were both held in Hanoi, Vietnam in October of last year. As well as the ninth summit of leaders from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam or the Triangle Development Area which was held in Siem Reap, Cambodia last November.
A total of US$200 million has been sourced through a loan from China to finance construction projects relating to the new Phongsaly provincial capital in Bounneua district in the far north of Laos. Director of the Provincial Department of Planning and Investment Mr Khamlek Chay-isane told Vientiane Times on Friday that with this amount of funding, the relocation to the new capital should be completed as planned. The US$200 million will be disbursed for infrastructure construction such as roads, public parks, electricity, water supply as well as the construction of public offices, he said. We have planned to complete the construction of all public offices in the new capital by 2020.
The cabinet agreed last week to establish a private-state joint company to develop the Vung Ang project after Vietnam gave a green light to utilise the seaport in its central Ha Tinh province. The agreement was made at the cabinet's monthly meeting for April, chaired by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith. The two-day meeting closed on Friday. The meeting was reported on the project's development concept and the cabinet approved its development direction, government spokesman Prof Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher told local media shortly after the meeting on Friday. The Vietnamese government has agreed to grant a 50-year concession to Laos to develop the project with the concession able to be extended.
The Health Authority has warned the public of possible outbreaks of dengue fever this year with the aim to prevent and control the disease. The total numbers of dengue fever cases were over double the number of cases during the same period in 2016. From January through until April of this year about 558 dengue fever infections have been recorded in the country while during the same period last year there were 249 dengue fever cases across the country, Director of the National Centre for Laboratory and Epidemiology Dr Phengta Vongphachanh confirmed.
Expanding clean agriculture production to supply market demands together with improved international market access can serve to catalyse growth in the Lao organic produce sector, an audience including the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry was told on April 20. Director General of Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr Vilaysouk Khennavong reviewed the implementation and plans for the clean agriculture production development during an annual meeting held on April 20 in Vientiane attended by Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Lien Thikeo. The department is also holding a two-day clean agriculture products fair to sell and exhibit clean agricultural, organic agricultural and good agricultural practices products from several provinces.