France extends support for development projects
France has agreed to extend its support for development projects to be implemented in Laos over the next three years, with the main focus on agriculture.
Two financial agreements valued at 1.5 million euros were reached on Thursday between the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the French Embassy in Vientiane, and the French Development Agency (AFD).
Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dr Kikeo Chanthaboury, French Ambassador to Laos Ms Claudine Ledoux, and AFD Regional Director in charge for Laos Mr Philippe Steinmetz signed the agreements.
The first agreement aims to follow up the development of the coffee sector, while increasing support for the northern provinces where the crop is expanding, and also provide further support to the national organisation of the sector.
The second agreement relates to the restoration of an irrigated area in Khammuan province.
“In addition to the objectives on production and income generation for the local population, this project aims to implement the participatory management of irrigation involving equally national authorities and customers, in accordance with the guidelines mentioned by the national strategy,” stated a press release issued at the signing ceremony.
France's experience in this field is well known and Laos will benefit from it through this project, according to the press release.
Even though the Northern Upland Development Programme, which has been co-financed by the AFD, the European Union, the Swiss Cooperation for Common Fund, and German cooperation, came to an end, the two components of the programme – agriculture and conservation, and rural infrastructure – will continue until 2018.
Beside the agreed projects, two other French-supported projects are being considered.
They are the agricultural development project on the Nakai Plateau, which is being prepared by Khammuan province with the Nam Theun Power Company, the concessionary of the Nam Theun 2 dam, and the nutrition project, which will support national policy while reinforcing the role of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in targeted provinces.
The AFD also confirmed its sectoral concentration to support the Lao government in the sectors of agriculture and rural development by actively participating in the Sectoral Working Group co-chaired by France.
The AFD also intends to retain its active support for other sectors in response to Lao government requirements, such as the enhancement of cultural heritage and urban development.
For its part, the French embassy will pursue its action in the field of governance with two priorities: respect for the rule of law, and the emergence of civil society in Laos.
In collaboration with the AFD, France has confirmed its keen interest to contribute to the preservation of Laos' heritage and its support for the excavation and enhancement of national treasures.
The French embassy has also showed its determination to develop scholarship opportunities for Lao youngsters who would like to enroll in universities in France or the Asean region.
Over the next three years the French embassy will focus on the promotion of research accompanying French institutes represented in Laos.
Overall, French development assistance to Laos is estimated at 15 million euros per year. Grant assistance from France to Laos is estimated at 25 million euros a year and 25 million globally, including France's financial aid through the European Union, the United Nations, and other multilateral channels.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update June 4, 2016)