The 5-year 8th National Socio-economic Development Plan (2016-2020), in short 8th NSEDP, is set in the context of the Lao government’s longer term planning and in particular the 10-year plan to 2025 and the 2030 Vision. The 8th NSEDP’s overall priority is graduating from Least Developed Country status.

More specifically, the 8th NSEDP aims to:

  • Facilitate eligibility for graduation from Least Developed Country status by 2020;
  • Consolidate regional and international integration in the context of the launching of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015; and
  • Take further steps towards industrialization and modernization and to enhance the well-being of the people and the prosperity of the country in order to achieve upper-middle-income country status by 2030.

Over 60% of the indicators of the 8th NSEDP Monitoring and Evaluation Framework are aligned to the SDGs giving a head start to the SDG localization and implementation work.

The 8th NSEDP has been designed taking into consideration the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs; and it addresses the trends which will lead to a longer term transformation:  (i) recent falls in commodity prices suggest that over-reliance on the mining sector should be avoided; (ii) government prioritizes energy (hydro) over mining, but the prospect for the energy sector is also insecure with enormous potential competition from Myanmar which will be selling power to the same markets as does Lao PDR; (iii) the ASEAN Economic Community or AEC  and transition from GMS to ASEAN presents opportunities and threats; and (iv) the emergence of new players – South-South and the increasing relevance to Lao PDR of its major South-south partners Vietnam, Thailand, China, Malaysia and India)  and new development banks (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, BRICS, South-south Exchange Trust Fund and One Belt One Road, as examples, could present new opportunities for Lao PDR.

The government has also taken great care to ensure that the preparation of the 8th NSEDP is evidence based and lessons learned from implementing the earlier 7th NSEDP have been identified along with remaining challenges.  The latter challenges included: (i) adequately stimulating the non-resource sector and making the private sector a cornerstone of future development; (ii) increasing the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for them to be a foundation of the growth and employment as well as for poverty reduction; (iii) developing entrepreneurs and improving the business climate within the framework of maximizing the benefits of WTO membership and preparing for integration into ASEAN Economic Community; (iv) further development of infrastructure for SMEs and human resources, enabling the people, farmers and entrepreneurs to access business, economic, social and cultural services; (v) assessing the impact of land concessions and land lease on agriculture sector in order to manage concessions more effectively; (vi) continue implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and adapt Sustainable Development Goals to the Lao development context and integrate them into the Plan; and (vii) protect the environment by focusing on environmentally friendly investments.

The design process has been consultative: in addition to government ministries, Development Partners and civil society representatives actively provided technical and substantive inputs. In April 2016, the National Assembly approved the 8th NSEDP and its results-based Monitoring and Evaluation Framework.