Public debt of Laos predicted to increase amid COVID-19 hinh anh 1Lao residents wear face masks amid COVID-19. (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)

Vientiane (VNA) -
The public debt of Laos may increase to as much as 65 to 68 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 following a sharp fall in national revenue collection alongside an increase in loans due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vientiane Times reported.

Revenue collection by Laos in 2020 will decrease by about 6.32 trillion kip (696 million USD), Finance Minister and Lao Deputy Prime Minister Somdy Douangdy said at the recent ninth session of the eight National Assembly.

The value of exports during the first six months of 2020 were at a low level of around 2.6 billion USD, a decreased of 5.1 percent compared to the same period of 2019, according to an assessment by an agency of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Important sectors, especially processing industries and construction, showed a decreasing trend. This included falls in cement, gold and copper production.

The exports of several products, such as clothes, cassava, bananas, coffee, wood pulp, paper and electronic equipment, are expected to be heavily impacted.

Investments are expected to decrease. The value of approved investments through the concession system in the first five months of 2020 was only 151 million USD, as against 2.38 billion USD for the same period of 2019.

The tourism sector too is expected to be further impacted during the last six months of the year, as the number of tourist arrivals in Laos in the first six months was only 887,447, a decrease of 60 percent compared to the same period of 2019./.