VIENTIANE, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Laos could accomplish economic growth of 7 percent in 2018, but needs to push for stronger development of mega projects, a Lao economist said.
Leeber Leebouapao from the National Economic Research Institute told Vientiane Times that the further progress of mega projects would serve as the main driver for economic growth amid the government's revenue shortfall.
"Laos is a small country ... just four or five mega projects can drive the nation's economic growth," the local daily on Friday quoted Leeber as saying.
Falling under this umbrella are the ongoing construction of the China-Laos railway, the Xayaboury hydropower project, development of special economic zones and other projects associated with the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, the report said.
"If these mega projects progress as planned, we can maintain economic growth at 7 percent in 2018. Construction of several hydropower projects will begin this year while others will be completed and become operational. These projects will be key to economic growth," Leeber said.
During the government's monthly meeting last month, Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith instructed the relevant ministries to push for the development of mega projects as a means to strengthen economic growth.
The premier told the cabinet to work with China to promptly implement projects to be financed by grants provided by the Chinese government.
Lao economists say 2018 could be a golden year for Laos if the Visit Laos Year 2018 campaign boosts tourist arrivals as expected and generates more revenue for economic growth and poverty reduction efforts, the daily said.
The Lao government is aiming to attract at least 5 million visitors in 2018, who it is hoped will generate revenue of about 900 million U.S. dollars.