Laos Pledges Continued Adherence to Socialism

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at
Tue Feb 13 03:27:25 MST 2001

Laos sees China, Vietnam as 'successful' socialist model

Kyodo News Service

VIENTIANE, Feb. 10 (Kyodo) - By: Supalak Ganjanakhundee

The Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP) will continue leading Laos
toward the goal of realizing a socialist society patterned after the
''successful'' models of China and Vietnam, according to a party source

A key document drafted for the communist party's seventh congress slated for
next month indicates the party remains confident in its strategy of
combining market-economy principles with socialist theory.

The LPRP blames poor leadership and misinterpretation of theory for the
collapse of communism in Russia and East European countries.

''Socialist theory is polished by its success in China. It looks better and
perfect after reforms and openness in Vietnam,'' the source quoted a party
political report for the coming congress as saying.

''Developments in the two countries confirm that socialism is in the right
direction and that it is alive and has a very bright future,'' it said.

As a socialist partner, the LPRP congress will propose that Laos continue
its special relations with Vietnam and expand comprehensive relations with
China, he said.

The source said the guidelines are expected to intensify the rivalry between
pro-Vietnam and pro-China factions within the party.

The party will also urge the military and police to strengthen inspections
and security measures to root out ''bad elements'' accused by authorities of
masterminding a string of bombings in Vientiane since March last year.

The congress, held every five years, is the most important event for the
ruling party because policy directions are laid out during the gathering.

It is estimated that 39% of the country's population of five million is

The LPRP has admitted failing to achieve targets for economic performance
set five years ago.

Economic growth averaged 6% instead of the targeted 8-8.5%. Per capita
income during the last five years averaged $300, falling short of the target

''We can partly blame the regional financial crisis (in the middle of 1997)
for the failures. But our poor internal management is a major part of the
economic slowdown,'' the source said.

Agencies such as those dealing with economic matters, the central bank and
the investment committee have been criticized for lacking unity and
efficiency to implement economic action plans.

Hyperinflation and economic difficulties resulted from poor coordination
among government agencies. However, Lao authorities managed to reduce
inflation from 141% in 1998 to 50% last year.

The coming congress targets boosting gross domestic product growth by at
least 6% annually in the next five years, according to the source.

The market mechanism would play a key role for transforming the Lao

State-run enterprises urgently need improvement to enable them to compete in
the market while inefficient debt-ridden firms would be dissolved or merged
with others.

Unlike Vietnam, which is supposed to hold its ninth congress in the same
period, the LPRP mentions corruption and abuse of power among officials but
made recommendations on how to tackle the problem.

The date of the congress is not yet fixed. The central committee ended its
14th plenary session Feb. 3 during which several draft documents for the
congress were considered.

The party will have to hold another plenum to finalize drafts of a political
report, socioeconomic development strategy for 2010-2020 and guidelines for
2001-2005 and socioeconomic plan prior to the congress.

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