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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    2 July 2012

Laos to regulate illegal foreign workers


Officials in Vientiane have approved in principle a direction to regulate and manage illegal foreign workers in the capital.

The officials from line ministries and Vientiane departments endorsed measures last week to launch a pilot scheme to regulate illegal workers, after a one-and-a-half-day discussion to outline the measures.

The Vientiane taskforce committee in charge of the issue will put the adopted measures in place to regulate more than 4,000 foreigners in the capital – mostly from neighbouring countries, a senior official said yesterday.

The meeting agreed that those presently working as hawkers, nail cutters and decorators, in beauty salons, as scrap metal collectors, fruit and vegetable vendors or other informal work should be repatriated, Director of the Vientiane Labour and Social Welfare Department and a member of the taskforce, Vilasack Nammounty, said.

“We will discuss the repatriation mechanism with officials in charge of these issues in these workers' countries of origin,” he said, adding that the solution must be carried out in a constructive manner.

The taskforce is also to work on registering foreigners who work in development projects and factories. Foreigners found to be engaged in businesses such as fish and pig farms without permission from the relevant sectors may apply for legal documents if the value of their business amounts to one billion kip (US$124,992).

Those whose business value is below one billion kip but not less than 250 million kip ($31,248) will be given a two-year period to grow their business to one billion kip, then apply for legal documents.

“Those failing to fulfill such requirements should to be repatriated,” Vilasack said.

He explained that the business operations of these people had not been conducted in accordance with the country's laws and regulations, as some had entered Laos as tourists, while some entered as legal workers with development projects but did not return home after the projects were phased out, staying on in Laos to do some kind of business.

Regarding a plan proposed at last week's meeting to establish zones for foreign traders, to ease management issues, the director said the participants agreed more talks were needed.

The Vientiane Taskforce Committee had previously suggested placing Chinese traders at the Chinese Shang Chieng or Talat Leng (Evening Market), where other Chinese merchants already operate. It also recommended that officials identify a particular place for Vietnamese traders.

“Further talks are needed on the establishment of these zones, and we also need advice from the government on the matter,” Vilasack said.

The measures could be flexible in accordance with varying circumstances when implemented by the officials in charge, he added.

Officials plan to carry out these measures in the capital within this month before expanding the work nationwide.

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