Laos, World Bank celebrate 50 years of partnership

Laos and the World Bank yesterday jointly opened a public exhibition to display the successes of their cooperation over the past 50 years.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Thongloun Sisoulith and World Bank Vice President James W. Adams officially opened the exhibition, which charts the 50 year history of the partnership between Laos and the bank.

Minister of Finance Mr Phouphet Khamphounvong, Minister of Planning and Investment Mr Somdy Duangdy, World Bank Country Manager Ms Keiko Miwa and a number of senior government officials also attended the event.

Speaking at the ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of Laos-World Bank partnership, Dr Thongloun expressed his appreciation to the bank for its valuable financial support and advice, helping Laos to alleviate poverty and raise living standards.

The exhibition, which is located at the Vientiane Plaza Hotel, provides an opportunity for members of the public to learn about the cooperation between Laos and the World Bank, with people also invited to express their opinion on future priority development areas the bank should address.

According to a media statement from the World Bank, the partnership has evolved within the changing context of global affairs and advances in developmental practices and knowledge.

Early on, the bank assisted Laos in areas such as reconstruction and food security. The bank later focused on expanding access to social services and infrastructure, and then developing institutions and the policy framework needed for strong economic management.

"Today the government of Laos and the World Bank Group enjoy a constructive working relationship and discuss key reform agenda and policy issues. Laos has benefited not only from financial contributions but also in-depth analysis and policy advice from the World Bank Group," Dr Thongloun said in a media statement.

"I hope that the World Bank Group will continue to be our partner for years to come with the common objective of poverty reduction and inclusive development in Laos."

Mr Adams said the World Bank was proud to be a development partner with Laos, adding that the successful cooperation had reduced poverty in the country.

"Today we can take pride in the achievements of our enduring partnership. Laos has seen remarkable success in lifting millions of people out of poverty and improving their lives. In less than a generation, the incidence of poverty in Laos has dropped from about 50 per cent to just a little over 25 per cent," he said.

"Laos' commitment to development has delivered electricity to most households, education to most children and roads to many villages that were once inaccessible."

While in Laos, Mr Adams paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and a number of government leaders to discuss future cooperation.

The Lao government and the World Bank will hold a number of activities this week to mark the 50th anniversary of their cooperation. On Monday evening, the bank held a reception at the Lao Plaza Hotel where Dr Thongloun and Mr Adams cut a cake to celebrate the occasion.

The two development partners also held a friendly football match at Chao Anouvong Stadium in Vientiane, aiming to enhance relations and cooperation between government and World Bank officials.