What do you think about the government’s policy of making electricity cheaper for the agricultural sector?

The government is formulating a policy to help farmers by lowering the cost of the electricity they consume for irrigation by 50 percent and livestock farms will pay 30 percent less in 2019. Some people are also asking if the reductions can be passed on to all electricity consumers given the increasing number of hydropower plants being built. Vientiane Times ventured out to seek public opinion on the issue.

 

Mr Someboun Silaphone, a farmer in Xaythany district: I think it’s a good idea if the government slashes electricity bills for farmers, especially those who have been victims of the recent floods. Their rainy season produce was destroyed by the natural disaster and it’s obvious they need to produce more in the dry season to meet the targets of their regions and the country at large. Electricity is needed for pumping water into the rice fields and this will take a toll on the already poor farmers. The authorities should also support the process of supplying seeds, livestock and farming equipment to the victims. If we can do this, it will not only help the victims but also reduce the price of agricultural products in the markets. Moreover, it will also reduce farm imports from other countries too.

Ms Jee Thongkhan, a resident of Savannakhet province: It’s a good idea to reduce electricity bills for the agribusiness sector because at present farmers are suffering from high production costs including the cost of electricity and animal feed. In addition, this year our country has been devastated by floods and both our agricultural produce and infrastructure has been hit. Almost all of the rice and other plantations along the path of the rivers have been destroyed by nature’s fury leading to heavy financial losses. I would like to give a million thanks if the government has reduced the electricity bills of farmers. If we help the farmers now, the country will have a better yield next year and that will be good for all the citizens.
Ms Yongvang, a college student from Vientiane province: This year we invested more in farming in the hope that it would help supplement our income and upgrade our standard of living. But our plantations and other properties have been damaged by the natural disaster. If we work in the dry season, we will need to pay far more for electricity bills and we do not have any money to spare. Of course, if the authorities reduce electricity bills it will help us to produce more in the dry season. In addition, it will assist all farmers who were affected by the disaster.

Ms Khonesavanh, a resident of Saravan province: It truth, Laos has many dams and there are many power plants being built. But the electricity bills in our country are quite high. On the other hand, there are many communities that still cannot access electricity, especially in remote areas. I know that most of the dam projects are the result of investment from other countries but we have also benefited from concessions so electricity consumers in Laos should pay less. If possible, all electricity customers not only farmers should pay less.

Mr Khamlaa Keobounma, an official in Xaysomboun province: It’s a good idea if the government reduces electricity bills for farmers to support production in the dry season. It will be difficult for them to pay their electricity bills so it will a big help if the government offers them a subsidy and helps tide them over this difficult phase which will help with nation-building in the long run. Of course, reducing electricity bills will also help lessen the price of many items in the markets because the cost of production will decrease too. In addition, it will also encourage more farmers to increase their production so we will have more domestic agricultural produce and fewer imports from overseas.  

By Lamphone Pasanthong
(Latest Update December 7, 2018)


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