Japanese loan to improve airport, reduce poverty in Laos.

The Japan government, through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), will provide a US$95.44 million loan to the Lao government to support a planned airport expansion and poverty reduction. (Mr Phouphet Khamphounvong (right) shakes hands with Mr Koichi Takei at the signing ceremony in Vientiane.)

The bulk of the loan will go towards the Vientiane Airport Terminal Expansion project at Wattay International Airport, while US$5 million will support the government’s 9th Poverty Reduction Support operation. The agreement was signed in Vientiane on Friday between the Minister of Finance, Mr. Phouphet Khamphounvong, and Chief Representative of JICA to Laos, Mr Koichi Takei. A statement from the Lao government said the continuing support from the Japan government is highly appreciated.

Vientiane’s Wattay International Airport is the country’s primary airport and since its establishment the government has received funding from several donors to improve the structures’ facilities. The aim of this major expansion project is to meet future demand for air transportation and improve operational efficiency and safety of the airport by expanding both the international and domestic terminals, thereby contributing to economic growth in Laos.
The Poverty Reduction Support operation (PRSO) is an ongoing government priority plan to ensure the country will meet the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating poverty by 2020. Since 2004 the government, in particular the Ministry of Finance, together with line agencies has successfully mapped-out PRSO 1 through 10. The government of Japan has already supported the implementation of PRSO 2, 3 and 5. To further their support the Japanese government is supporting PRSO 9 in order to achieve policy goals stated in Laos’ National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP).
The NSEDP goals include strengthened fiscal and public financial management, sustainable revenue management in the natural resource sector such as mining and hydropower, sustainable public financing for schools and health facilities and an improved investment climate for diversification and competitiveness.
It is anticipated these factors will contribute to promoting economic stabilisation and development efforts in Laos.

The economy of Laos has attained steady Gross Domestic Production growth, recording approximately 8 percent a year over the past several years and the poverty rate has dropped from 45 percent in 1992 to 20.5 percent in 2012.

(Vientiane Times - January 13, 2014)