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World Bank Group Helps Facilitate Value-Added Tax Compliance by Lao Businesses

Vientiane, Lao PDR, July 15, 2010 —The Investment Climate Advisory Services of the World Bank Group is joining the Lao government and private sector to support the introduction of the value-added tax in Lao PDR and ensure that local businesses are not burdened unnecessarily in complying with new requirements.
At a workshop on July 15 organized by the Lao Tax Department in collaboration with the World Bank Group, businesses affected by the value-added tax were updated on relevant policies and procedures.  At this event Government and the World Bank Group tax specialists answered questions on how to abide by the new tax rules.  Furthermore, and to respond to the volume of enquiries on the subject, the Tax Department also has set up special hotlines.  
“The workshop is one of several initiatives to provide guidance on how to file value-added tax returns and comply with accounting and reporting requirements,” said Mr. Khamphai Vongsakhamphoui, Deputy Director General of the Tax Department.  “It is a useful and timely tool in helping facilitate compliance by taxpayers.”
Aimilios Chatzinikolaou, IFC Head of Office in Lao PDR, said, “Experience throughout the world shows that despite being a fair, neutral, and transparent tax instrument, value-added tax, if not properly set up, may result in an increased compliance burden on businesses. IFC’s role is to help ensure that doesn’t happen in Lao PDR.”  IFC is a member of the World Bank Group.
Together with other activities to support a wider taxpayer information campaign, the workshop enhances information on value-added tax policies and procedures to help implement the new tax, which will affect about 2,000 businesses.  
“At first we were unsure about the value-added tax because we did not know if it would be easy to comply with new procedures.  But today’s workshop, which provided detailed guidelines on compliance, was very useful,” said Mr. Xayasak Vongchith, Chief of Accounting Division, Viengthong Pharmaceutical Company.  “And the manual provided at the workshop includes the necessary information to help us comply with tax-filing requirements.”
IFC also is working in partnership with the Tax Department to simplify tax administration procedures for Lao small and medium enterprises.  In Lao PDR, IFC Advisory Services are delivered in partnership with Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Switzerland.
About the Investment Climate Advisory Services of the World Bank Group
The Investment Climate Advisory Services of the World Bank Group helps governments implement reforms to improve their business environment, and encourage and retain investment, thus fostering competitive markets, growth and job creation. Funding is provided by the World Bank Group (IFC, MIGA, and the World Bank) and over 15 donor partners working through the multi-donor FIAS platform.