Private investment in Laos saw an unexpected surge over the first six months of this fiscal year after the government launched its one-stop registration service in October.
From October to March, the government approved 98 domestic and foreign investment projects with a total investment value of $2 billion (Bt61 billion), 31 per cent higher than originally forecast, according to a report from the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
The government had expected to approve only $1.5 billion worth of investment projects this fiscal year, but after six months the approved investment value was already above the target figure. The increase was attributed to the improved services provided for investors.
The government launched the one stop investment service to make it easier for local and foreign businesses to obtain permission to invest in a concession project.
In the past, businesses had to visit many ministries and officials before getting investment permission from the government. This not only wasted time but became an expensive exercise.
The government has now amended a number of laws and regulations to facilitate private investment after realising that the private sector is a major driver of economic growth and sustainable development.
Mining, hydropower and agriculture remained the top three industries of choice for investors in the first half of the fiscal year.
According to the report from the Planning and Investment Ministry, one of the most significant investment projects is the $1.3 billion iron ore mining operation in the southern province of Xekong and the $199 million Xepian-Xenamnoy hydropower project in Champassak province.