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Mass Organisations Comment on NA, Government Performance

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Public debt, abuse of power and other misconduct by government officials are some of the issues highlighted by mass organisations for the National Assembly (NA) and other government bodies to address.

Vice President of the Lao Front for National Construction, Ms Khamchanh Phomsengsavanh, representing the Front, Youth Union, Lao Women’s Union and other mass organisations, outlined their proposals to the NA and government yesterday at the Assembly’s ongoing debate session.

We propose to review for consideration the government’s investment debt, as a number of projects have been approved, while the government has repaid them, Ms Khamchanh said.

The huge public debt is burdening the country and its people, contributing to the fragility of the national economy, she added.

The mass organisations called on the NA to enhance their oversight, pointing out that many projects approved by the NA have been delayed, while others have proven to be totally ineffective.

Abuse of power by some officials in Vientiane was also included in the comments made by the organisations, who claimed corrupt officials hindered ordinary people’s attempt to make a living.

Mass organisations also remarked on the illegal import of vehicles, saying they were used by officials at the Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of National Defence.

If ordinary people committed such crimes they would be punished, but officials are not treated in the same way, Ms Khamchanh said.

She also passed on messages from people in the northern provinces, who want the government to clarify the social and environmental impacts concerning the planned Laos-China railway.

Other issues raised by mass organisations included illegal logging, the extraction of alluvial gold, the market price of crops, government employees abusing land reserves, and the delay of road construction projects.

They also wanted the government to review the importation of electricity, which consumes huge amounts of state money and creates significant public debt.

The 13 villages near the biggest hydropower dam in Nakai district, which have no access to electricity, was also a matter raised by the organisations for government consideration.

The placing of trade unions and other mass organisations within business units and factories and the increasing drug abuse by labourers who then became violent were also raised, with organisations calling on the government to enforce stricter measures against drug dealers.

The organisations asked the Ministry of Health to look into the ethics of medical staff following public complaints that they left medical students on standby at night and on holidays, which led to the unnecessary death of hospital patients. They also asked the government to control exaggerated advertising by private hospitals, along with health checks and treatment fees, after members of the public complained that these were too expensive.

Another issue raised was the number of signs put up by restaurants, companies and hotels, many of which were in foreign languages, along with the increase in the number of young people following foreign trends, and the excessive use of loudspeakers, bright lights and light boxes for advertising purposes, which caused public annoyance.

The organisation also raised concerns about monks who did not comply with Buddhist principles and violated the ethics of Buddhism by engaging in intimacy with people of the opposite sex.

Some leaders and followers of other religions in Laos were also said to be infringing their basic tenets.

Non-transparency and nepotism in public recruitment is also a significant concern the mass organisations want the NA and government to inspect.

For example, they said many people have worked for government agencies for five years, but were not granted civil servant status while others who had just recently graduated obtained the status after one year. Moreover, they said bribery used to obtain government jobs and promotion is rife, including in the public security and national defence agencies.

The organisations also requested closer monitoring of judiciary agencies and the police, which they said was weak, citing the detention of people without the authorisation of prosecutors, with some being detained without being charged or accused for longer than was stipulated by the law.

Source: Vientiane Times