Reflecting on Lao National Development Priorities in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic, and looking towards the 9th NSEDP
Vientiane, 07 September 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic has already imposed a major shock on Lao PDR and its neighbors, with effects that are likely to be felt for years to come. In response to the challenges, the Government of Lao PDR, the United Nations, and other development partners are working closely to reassess the evolving situation and propose appropriate adjustments to the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) 2021-2025 under development, to ensure that the development priorities remain relevant and stay needs-driven, and that targets remain achievable. This exercise will also help assess the implications for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the country.
In Lao PDR, following years of GDP growth averaging in excess of 7 percent, growth in 2020 will be severely impacted. Economic performance in major regional economies has also been adversely affected, with implications for trade, investment, and regional employment opportunities. In addition, globally, unprecedented investments in economic stimulus packages to respond the socio-economic fallout from the pandemic will likely have significant implications for the availability of international support in coming years. The effects of COVID-19 may therefore require adjustments to the national planning and SDG localization to ensure a fast recovery and sustained inclusive development progress.
To this end, in May 2020 the Ministry of Planning and Investment, on behalf of the Government of Lao PDR, requested the support of the UN in collaboration with various partners to identify the potential policy shifts needed for the coming 5-year period. A Multi-stakeholder Taskforce has been established to support the process, composed of relevant ministries, UN agencies, think tanks, development partners and the private sector.
Starting this week, the Multi-stakeholder Taskforce will convene a series of focused Policy Dialogues on priority themes including 1) Financing for Sustainable Development; 2) Trade, Private Sector, Value Chains and Tourism; 3) Skill Development and Sustainable Employment; 4) Human Capital; and 5) Green Growth, Resilience and Risk Management.
The objective of these dialogues is to reach a shared understanding of the key implications of COVID-19 and resulting policy priorities amongst a core set of national decision makers and development partners.
On 8 September, the first dialogue on Macro-Fiscal Framework and Financing for Sustainable Development will kick off, focusing on various financing aspects to support the development of the country against the backdrop of COVID-19. This dialogue will be co-chaired by Vice Minister of Finance H.E. Dr. Bounleua Sinxayvoravong and the UN Resident Coordinator Ms. Sara Sekkenes.
This and following thematic dialogues will generate a set of strategic recommendations for consideration by relevant Ministries and Sector Working Groups, to complete the draft 9th NSEDP in light of the changing context posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and to inform the SDG localization.