ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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LAOS-Problems of Reconstruction

February 26, 1977 LAOS Problems of Reconstruction S S Bhattacharya AFTER a prolonged armed struggle which culminated in the victory of May 1975, the People's Demo- cratic Republic of Laos, under the presidentship of Pathel Lao leader, Souphanouvong, formally came into existence on December 2, 1975, when the republic was proclaimed by the National Congress of the People's Representatives. According to the National Congress, the principal aim of the new government would be to develop agriculture and forestry to serve as the basis for future industrial development Other objectives include exploration of mineral and hydro-electric resources, the erection of a state trading network and restructuring of the financial system. Since then, efforts have been directed towards increasing rice production. There have been no land reforms as such in Laos, since the overwhelming majority of Laotian peasants own lands. Arable land is plentiful, and the population of about three million people does not have enough manpower to till the entire agricultural area, NAM NGUM POWER PROJECT The Nam Ngum power project located on a major tributary of the Mekong river, 70 km north of Vientiane, has an output of 100,000 kilowatts of electricity; its reservoir is irrigating vast tracts of land in the Vientiane, Kieng Khouang and Luang Prabhang regions. Ten countries (including India) and the Asian Development Bank have agreed to provide more finance for the second phase of the project. It is expected that this project when completed will produce 600 million kwh of electricity annually, sufficient not merely to meet country's increasing demand beyond 1977 but also to export to neighbouring countries. The government clearly envisages a role for the private sector in the new Laos. The state advances loans and provides raw materials to private factories to get their production lines moving. However, the distribution of the products is undertaken by the state. Many of the factories have been relocated to increase production and to achieve a balanced national growth. The state has taken over the management of the industries that belonged to those elements in the population which fled the country in May 1975. State shops and co-operative and collective farms have been established all over the country and private commerce has been taken over. Armed Pathet Lao troops have moved into some shops, checking stock inventories and ensuring that sales take place in the national currency (the kip) rather than in US dollars which are smuggled through Thailand.

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