Laos President Choummaly Sayasone has advised the ministry of industry and commerce to introduce concrete measures to stop the import of secondhand cars, as Vientiane is facing traffic congestion.
“The ministry should carefully check and recheck to ensure that the import of secondhand vehicles is really halted,” Choummaly said as he delivered the policy to leaders and officials of the ministry in Vientiane on Thursday.
The government had ordered the ministry to stop the import of secondhand vehicles earlier this year but the number of secondhand cars on sale in Vientiane has remained unchanged over the past few months, raising questions as to whether the import of these vehicles had really stopped.
“I still see many cars on display but not yet on the road. If all of these cars start to be used, we will not be able to move around and people in the capital will not be able to visit each other,” Choummaly said.
Choummaly, who is also secretary general of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, said Vientiane was a small city and with the number of cars growing rapidly, traffic jams were occurring, so the ministry should come up with new measures to stop further imports.
He also said he wanted trade policy makers to consider the increasing number of secondhand vehicles as a serious problem which they needed to solve.
The number of vehicles on Vientiane's roads has been increasing rapidly over the past few years while the government allowed second-hand vehicle imports. Lao people obviously considered the cost of secondhand vehicles more affordable.
Choummaly said that what the government wanted the ministry to do was to facilitate the import of agricultural tools, tractors, trucks and fertilizers.
These improve farming conditions by easing the farmer's workload and increasing crop yields to supply raw materials for processing plants.
He said the government needed to facilitate the import of modern equipment in order to improve modernization in the agriculture sector.
According to the 7th National Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2011 to 2015, the government plans to modernize the agriculture sector so it can reduce the number of manual workers required, with the surplus being reassigned to work in the service and industry sectors.
At present, the majority of Lao people work on the land. However, the large number of workers does little to boost agricultural productivity which only saw 2.7 per cent growth this fiscal year.
By comparison, the service and industry sectors saw 8.1 per cent and 13 per cent increases respectively despite employing a much smaller proportion of the population.