Laos mulls private investment for roads

VIENTIANE - Laos is considering allowing private investment to help improve the country's roads, reports said Monday.

A feasibility study into building highways through public-private partnerships was to be conducted with financial support from the World Bank, Lao Deputy Transport Minister Lattanamany Khounnivong was quoted as saying by the state-run Vientiane Times.

The government has declared the goal of transforming the country, which borders China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar, from a "land-locked to a land-linked one."

But "despite the efforts, road development in the country still lags behind others in the region," the Vientiane Times noted.

"Many officials say that allowing public-private partnerships to develop tollways would help the country to address corruption ininfrastructure development," it said.

The study would first consider a joint venture to upgrade a four-lane highway linking Vientiane to Vang Viang, a popular touristdestination about 110 kilometres to the north.

A World Bank representative declined to comment on the report.

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