Research project on illicit financial flows getting attention from public sector in Lao PDR

Photo: Attendees of research seminar at Mercure Hotel in Vientiane Capital, Laos.

On Monday, 22nd January 2018, a research seminar on “Improving Resource Governance to Finance Development: Curbing Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs)” was held at Mercure Hotel in Vientiane, organized by Centre for Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Restructuring (CMER) of Laos National Institute for Economic Research (NIER) in collaboration with Centre on Conflict, Development and Peace Building (CCDP), the Graduate Institute of International and Development of Geneva. Around 30 participants from various government and academy sectors (Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning and Investment, Ministry of Justice, Bank of Lao PDR, Ministry of Energy and Mine, Lao Statistic Bureau, Economic Research Institute for Trade, Center for Development Research, National University of Laos, and researchers at the National Institute for Economic Research) were invited to the seminar.

The seminar consisted of a keynote presentation by Prof. Gilles Carbonnier, lead applicant of the project on Curbing Illicit Financial Flows from Resource-rich Developing Countries, and also included contributions from members of the research consortium. The audience was informed about the issue of IFFs and their significance for the Lao economy, alongside policy proposals under consideration to curb IFFs in order to boost domestic revenue to finance the implementation of SDGs. It was recognized by the audiences that there is a need to future research on the issue in Lao context to get better understanding of this issue for Laos.

Through this seminar, the importance of natural resource governance to reduce illicit financial flows was introduced as a new topic to the academic and policy audience in Vientiane Capital. This led to a lively discussion following the seminar particularly focused on the methodology proposed to investigate the existence of IFFs, concerns and possibility of getting required data and the importance of collaboration among stakeholders in supplying information related to the issue.

In addition, from 23rd – 25th January, the Lao R4D team together with Prof. Gilles Carbonnier and Dr. Rahul Mehrotra conducted a series of meetings with government agencies and international organizations to discuss the IFF research project and develop collaborations. The agencies visited include Ministry of Finance (Fiscal Policy Department, Custom Department, and Tax Department), Bank of Lao PDR (Monetary Policy Department, Anti-Money Laundering Intelligence Office), Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), and the World Bank office in Vientiane. All stakeholders expressed their interest and willingness to support the research project by providing information. Public sector stakeholders in particular expressed a keen interest in following the research progress and reading the findings.

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