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Party Secretary General and State President Thongloun Sisoulith (pic) has delivered a New Year speech through the media, highlighting the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for Laos in 2022.

In a speech to bid farewell to 2021 and welcome in the New Year 2022, the President extended best wishes to people of all ethnicities and urged them to continue to apply their knowledge and energy to help Laos overcome challenges.

A number of significant events occurred in 2021, mostly relating to politics, economics and socio-cultural matters.

Most importantly, the inauguration of the US$5.9 billion Laos-China railway put Laos in the global spotlight and has provided much-needed rail connectivity by enabling the country to build on its landlocked location and become a land-linked hub.

The government aims to capitalise on the massive potential offered by the railway by providing wide-ranging transit services.

Despite the difficulties and challenges facing Laos’ development plans for 2021, the country has been able to firmly maintain political stability and social order, the President said.

The economy continues to grow and people’s standard of living has improved despite the many problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The President praised all Lao people across the country for their hard work and unity in overcoming difficulties and fruitfully complying with the resolutions and policies adopted by the Party and government.

Thongloun said he hoped that 2022 would bring favourable conditions for the development of Laos at a new pace.

However, he acknowledged that there will inevitably be yet more challenges and difficulties in the coming year, especially as it is unclear when the Covid-19 outbreak will come to an end.

In light of this uncertain situation, the President called on all members of the public to further dedicate their energies to the two strategic tasks of national defence and development.

The contributions made by all citizens should ensure that Laos is able to graduate from least developed country status in 2026 and enter a new chapter of development that will bring more prosperity and well-being to the Lao people.

In the meantime, everyone is urged to be alert to the dangers of Covid-19 and adjust to the “new normal” by wearing face masks when going out, using hand sanitiser, and following the rules on social distancing.

This year it is projected that the economy will grow by 3 per cent, less than the growth rate of 4 per cent endorsed by the National Assembly.

The slower growth rate is linked to the Covid-19 pandemic that has disrupted economic activities and forced companies, shops and factories to shut down, driving up unemployment.

Source: The Star, LAOS/December 31, 2021

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