Phongsaly outlines path to prosperity

By Ounkham Pimmata
May 20, 2011

Villagers plant vegetables on a hillside near their village in Nhot-ou district of Phongsaly province.

Phongsaly province expects to attain GDP of 1,137 billion kip in the next five years, while local people’s incomes should reach US$754 per capita, according to the Phongsaly Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2011-2015.

As at last year, the province’s economy was worth around 720 billion kip and average per capita income was US$467 per annum.

The plan outlines efforts to expand the provincial agriculture and forestry sector to account for 43 percent of GDP and the services sector for 23 percent.

Provincial authorities hope to increase GDP by 10 percent per annum over the next five years and to spend 1.86 billion kip on funding social and economic development by 2015.

Phongsaly will build on strategic plans to attract both domestic and international investors, with a target of investment value of 818.4 billion kip over the next five years. That means the province must increase investment by around US$20 million per year to achieve its goal.

Provincial authorities expect to spend more than 300 billion kip, or 18 percent of GDP, to develop rural areas, alleviate poverty and encourage vocational education in remote areas.

Attracting increased aid funding from international organisations and neighbouring countries like China and Vietnam to 111.6 billion kip is another goal outlined in the plan, with aid to focus on human resource development, and projects to improve sanitation and reduce poverty.

The province’s exports are expected to reach a value of more than 280 million kip in the next five years and should grow by 7-10 percent each year, while imports are targeted to reach 205 million kip in value.

Officials say targets in the plan are attainable in the next five years due to the province’s abundance of natural resources, which have yet to be exploited, while it also borders China and Vietnam.However, some challenges remain, especially in social and economic development, as local people in remote areas lack the knowledge and equipment to bolster agricultural production, many poor families are still involved in slash and burn cultivation, and the number of families classified as poor remains high.

Additional challenges are basic infrastructure remains poor and inconvenient for investors, most roads are not sealed, and some villages in rural areas lack access to clean water, schools, and medical services.

Provincial officials hope improving infrastructure to attract more investors will help local people to improve their living standards, reduce poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, in line with government policies.

Source

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