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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Champassak electricity debt falls

Residents of Champassak province have paid off almost half of their debts to the provincial branch of Electricite du Laos, an official from the province said on Friday.

“At the start of 2007 we were owed 40 billion kip, but over the year customers managed to reduce that to 26 billion kip,” said the deputy manager of the provincial electricity department, Mr Khoune Bouaphengphanh.

“We are very happy with how much customer debts have been reduced,” Mr Khoune said.

He said the department hopes to reduce the outstanding amount from 26 to 16 billion kip by the end of this year.

In the past some residents could not meet the demands of payment if incomes in the poorer communities fell, and other people simply don't like to pay bills so end up with a mounting debt, he said.

“We will not cut off their electricity if they do not pay their debts, but we will explain the situation to them and ask them for reimbursement until they have paid us all they owe.”

Customers have signed agreements indicating they will pay their bills in amounts that fairly match their ability to pay. Some can repay the total amount in about three months, others will take longer,” Mr Khoune said.

There are 10 districts in Champassak province, and over half of the 926 villages receive electricity from the provincial branch of Electricite du Laos.

According to the department, the province is planning to expand the grid system in rural areas in the middle of this year.

This is to support the Lao government's strategic plan for poverty reduction, aimed at lifting Laos out of least-developed country status by 2020.

The grid will be widened to a further 119 villages over the next five years, with funds allocated by the World Bank, Mr Khoune said.

By 2010, the department expects to supply power to 70 percent of villages in the province, he said.

By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update January 7 , 2007)

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