The government of Laos and World Bank signed a 20-million-U.S. dollar finnancing agreement aimed at reducing poverty in the country, according to a World Bank press release obtained by Xinhua on Friday.
The agreement was signed Thursday by Phouphet Khamphounvong, minister of finance of the Laos, and Ulrich Zachau, country director for the World Bank to Southeast Asia. "Our program, which PRSO supports, focuses on policy areas critical for Lao PDR's development. The program will foster economic growth and reduce poverty,"said Khamphounvong.
PRSO, or Ninth Poverty Reduction Support Operation, is designed to support policies and reforms that will enable more sustainable management of increasing revenues from natural resource sectors in order to deliver improved public services in Laos.
PRSO support has helped implement more transparent rules for trade and investment, develop a stronger framework for the regulation and taxation of natural resources, strengthen public revenue management and improve sector planning in the health and education sectors, according to the World Bank release.
The signing came on the same day as Minister to the Government Office and Chairman of the Lao National Committee for Rural Development and Poverty Eradication, Bounheuang Douangphachanh, spoke to state-run newspaper Vientiane Times about the current budgetary challenges impeding poverty eradication. "We need a minimum of 500 billion kip (63.51 million U.S. dollars) to fund our work each year, but the state budget doesn't allow for that amount,"he said.
The Lao government has been implementing its poverty reduction strategy for over a decade. The Lao National Committee for Rural Development and Poverty Eradication's plan for 2011 to 2015 aims to reduce the number of families in poverty to less than 10 percent by 2015. In 2010, the proportion of impoverished families sat at 20.4 percent but that number drastically fell to 10.57 percent in 2013.