Income Generation of Chambers and Business Associations
The Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) and (UNIDO) held two workshops on income generation of business membership organizations (BMOs) from April 25 through May 2, 2008. The workshops in the capital Vientiane and in Northern Laos’ Oudomxay Province were part of a training series on chamber and association management within the joint UNIDO-UNDP project “Promoting Private Sector Development Through Strengthening of Lao Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Business Associations” in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
The LNCCI Board of Directors met in Oudomxay for an internal meeting before opening the first workshop on April 25. President Kissana Vongsay, Vice Presidents Onesy Boutsivongsad, Dr. Sananh Chounlamany, Chantao Pathammavong, Sisanouk Sisombat, Southone Sirisack, Oudet Souvannavong, and Secretary General Khanthavong Dalavong participated in the discussion of income generation potential and new strategies of LNCCI, provincial CCIs, and the other BMOs. Deputy Secretary General Sengdavone Bangolesengdet explained the principles of decision-making and political advocacy of the business community within a strong and united BMO system. CIM Expert Dr. Ramon Bruesseler presented a status report on LNCCI strategy development in 2008. UNIDO Expert Helmut Schoenleber provided background information on international best practice in demand-oriented services for members, the structure of fair membership and service fees, and the optimization of other income.
Oudomxay province had been selected for this first workshop of the series, because the provincial Chamber of Commerce and Industry is one of the youngest in the country and urgently needs support in capacity building and management. The provincial government underlined its strong interest in the new chamber: Oudomxay Governor Bounphone Buttanavong and Vice Governor Somsy Saybounhuang joined the group after the workshop and promised their continued support for the business community and its chamber.
Leaders and financial managers of LNCCI, five provincial chambers, and seven national business associations participated in the second workshop in Vientiane from April 28 through May 2. Trainers in this workshop were LNCCI Deputy Secretary General Sengdavone Bangolesengdet, accounting and auditing consultant Phonexay Sanasin, and UNIDO’s expert on business membership organizations, Helmut Schoenleber.
The Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Bouasone Bouphanvanh, joined more than 350 top representatives of the private business community in their discussion about a new legal framework for the business membership organizations (BMOs) of the country. The discussion was key topic of the 2008 Annual Congress of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) on February 1, 2008 in Vientiane. By participating for the first time in a LNCCI Annual Congress, Bouasone underlined the government’s strong consideration for a more rational and effective BMO system under leadership of LNCCI. The event was a rare opportunity for entrepreneurs and business leaders to voice their concerns about specific obstacles to the development of their BMOs, as the Prime Minister listened in the afternoon session to the presidents of LNCCI, twelve provincial chambers of commerce and industry, and sixteen sector associations, before presenting his own viewpoints and recommendations.
LNCCI President Kissana Vongsay pointed out that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOC) already provided his chamber an unprecedented opportunity by authorizing it to draft a new decree on BMOs: “While all previous laws, decrees, and regulations were written by the Lao government, the BMO Decree will be the first to be officially suggested by a non-government organization.” Building a strong, united, democratic, sustainable, and financially independent system of political advocacy for the business community and of high-quality services for the members will be the main objectives of the decree, said Kissana. The improvement of the legal framework for BMOs in the Lao PDR is one objective of the UNIDO / UNDP joint project on private sector development.
Vice President Onesy Boutsyvongsack presented the LNCCI Board of Directors’ current considerations about the draft’s detailed provisions, and invited all participants to comment. In the morning session of the Annual Congress, the LNCCI members unanimously approved the 2007 annual action report presented by President Kissana, the financial report presented by Vice President and Treasurer Daovone Phachanthavong, and the 2008 action plan presented by Vice President Dr. Sananh Chounlamany. Secretary General Khanthavong Dalavong facilitated the discussions.
The Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) hosted a top-level meeting of the executive committee and provincial chambers, as well as other business associations, on November 2, 2007 in Vientiane. The president of the LNCCI, Kissana Vongsay, said the executive committee discussed plans to improve capacity building of the chamber for the year 2008, to ensure that the entrepreneurs groups and associations benefited as much as possible. He said government officials should work to improve the business environment for entrepreneurs, and help resolve government – related problems of business owners, to ensure that the private sector can help the country’s economic progress. Strengthening the business community in Laos will be the key issue of LNCCI in the year 2008, who is committed to take leadership in business and employers representation.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry will also play a part in increasing local incomes, as part of the national socio-economic development process. New entrepreneurs will have the chance to learn more about how to improve their businesses and to ensure they can export their products to international markets, on the same level as experienced entrepreneurs. To implement the new plans, the executive committee will ensure that the national chamber is enshrined in law, rather than being the subject of a Prime Minister Decree. Since 1989, when the Lao National Chamber was established, the number of members has been increasing to 1075, including 25 business associations and 9 provincial chambers. Still it needs to improve services to the members, such as business information, and to attract new members in all business sectors in Laos.
At the closing ceremony, Minister of Industry and CommerceDr. Nam Viyaket, provided comments on the government’s point of view on the promotion of the business community’s development. According to Viyaket, the government fully supports the movement of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry as the leader of the business community in Laos. The event was supported by UNIDO and UNDP who were represented by Dr. Kheungkham Keonuchan and Stephane Vigie.