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  Home   MRC News Speeches Opening Address by H.E. Mr Bounnhang Vorachith

MRC Secretariat Official Inauguration

Opening Address by
H.E. Mr Bounnhang Vorachith
Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Mekong River Commission Secretariat
Vientiane, Lao PDR
27 August 2004


Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On this very special occasion, it is my pleasure to join with you all to commemorate the inauguration of this building. By witnessing this important event we are strengthening the spirit of cooperation which ties the four MRC member countries together and allows all of you as supporters of MRC to join together to further strengthen the many partnerships needed to support sound development of this region.

We are in a region that is unique. Our sixty million people live along the banks of the 12th largest river in the world. We are surrounded by rich biodiversity and aim to both utilize and preserve Mekong River natural resources for the well-being of our people in the basin.

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

My country, Lao PDR is small and land locked country. We have no sea water, but we have plenty of fresh water and contribute approximately 35% of the water to the Mekong River. For Lao people, the Mekong River is central to their life. More than 90%
of this country lies within the Mekong River Basin. The river is the border between neighbours and the source of life for our largely decentralised population. It influences our way of life, our culture and the food we eat. Therefore, the Government of Lao PDR is interested in long-term sustainable solutions to improve the livelihood of our people. We have a commitment to doing this with full consideration for the sustainability of the environment and the well being of our neighbours. Ongoing and active membership of the Mekong River Commission will allow us to do this.

The Government of Lao PDR gives priority to the work of MRC. This can be noted in the direct link the Lao National Mekong Committee has to the Prime Minister’s Office. We are working to ensure our national development plans link to the sub-areas and basin plans of the BDP. We support the use of assessment tools being developed within MRC’s programmes for water sharing and utilisation and ensure smooth programmes implementation through the active engagement of line agencies, with coordination assistance from the LNMC. Lao PDR is geographically mountainous and widespread with low level of development. People need development to improve their livelihood to be able to abolish poverty in the country. However, we have remained committed to MRC planning process and its participatory approach to development.

All in all Lao PDR acknowledges the strong benefits of balanced development that is borne out of a clear understanding of the natural resource management of the region. Lao PDR is a country rich in natural resources. To ensure ongoing involvement in Mekong development we support the goals of MRC. These are equitable sharing of Mekong water, maintaining the ecological balance, social and economic well being of the people and cooperation and independent growth. This is the recipe to which we should all aspire.

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The development of a region requires a consistent and coordinated approach. The strong links between MRC, ASEAN, ADB Greater Mekong Sub-region and other development initiatives allow for the highest levels of coordination in development found anywhere in the world. As Mekong Countries, we therefore have before us a great opportunity to move forward the process of development for the Mekong to provide bright futures for our people, to strengthen regional cooperation and to preserve one of the mightiest rivers.

I would like to express my gratitude for the decision that enabled Lao PDR to become the host country for the Mekong River Commission Secretariat after five years of successful operation in Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. I also extend congratulations to those involved in conducting such a successful relocation. I would also like to express my gratitude to all countries, international cooperation agencies and the donor community for your continued support to the Mekong River Commission and in doing so support to Lao PDR.

Providing such a building has been made possible through the generosity of the Government of Lao PDR. In addition to provision of these offices, the Lao Government also provides the immunities and privileges required for MRC to undertake its work. We would like to extend thanks to Governments of Thailand, Viet Nam, Japan and Republic of Korea and UNDP for their contributions to the relocation. We are also grateful for the employment and career opportunities provided through the recruitment of a total of 50 Lao support staff and believe they will very proudly serve the needs of the organisation.

If livelihoods are to continue to improve, if the economies of the smallest village to the largest centre are to increase, if we are to ensure maximum use of the natural potential of the Mekong River without harming its long term sustainability, the spirit of cooperation, or the Mekong Spirit as it is called, must remain and move from strength to strength as time goes on.

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Government of Lao PDR and on my own behalf, I would like to pass on my very best wishes to Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen, for continued prosperity, productivity and good fortune in implementing the work of the Mekong River Commission that will ensure the long-term sustainability of the Mekong River.

I believe the Mekong Spirit is strong in our hearts and minds and will guide us in our future work.

May I extend my sincerest wishes to all of you in your ongoing efforts in ensuring the development of this region and thank you for providing me with such an auspicious occasion on which to reinforce these sentiments.

Thank you



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