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Laos: Investment Law Modified, Other Legislation Passed

(Aug. 3, 2009) As was reported at a press conference held by Thongteun Sayasane, the spokesman for the legislature of the Southeast Asian nation of Laos, the country has taken action to permit foreign investors to buy and sell office buildings. The National Assembly, in addition to approving several reports and action plans, adopted an amendment to the investment law to permit the sales. Any foreign investors who invest more than 2.5 billion Kip (about US$287,000) in Laos will be able to lease land for 99 years and to buy and sell buildings in the country. The press conference was held at the end of the sixth National Assembly's seventh ordinary session, which was held from June 22 to July 9, 2009. ( Laos Approves Law Allowing Foreign Investors to Buy Offices, VOA NEWS, July 22, 2009, available at

Among other actions, the assembly also passed a plan for an expanded educational system, designed to increase access to pre-school, primary, and secondary education. The assembly approved laws on fisheries, water works, and the Lao Front for National Construction (LFNC). Together with the investment law, the assembly expects the LFNC law to increase development in the country, in part by attracting Laotians who have left the country to return and contribute to its growth. (Id.)

The assembly also approved the government's report on the current national development plan and projected goals for 2009-2010, which reflect a reduced estimated growth rate of 7.5 percent, rather than 8.0 percent. The national budget deficit will increase from 4.56 percent to 5.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for 2008-2009, due to decreased state earnings. The target for the next period is an earnings rate of 17 percent of GDP, with only 2.0 percent of that coming from loans and grants from abroad. (Id.)