Notice from Bank of Lao PDR on the Monitoring of Use of Payment Services
On 2 March 2021, the Department of Payment System Management, Bank of Lao PDR ("BOL") issued Notice No. 161/DPSM on the monitoring of the use of payment services of commercial banks, non-commercial financial institutions, and legal entities that provide payment services ("Notice"). Inspections have shown that a number of groups and companies have used the products, channels, and payment tools of commercial banks, non-commercial financial institutions, and legal entities without complying with the regulations of the BOL and Payment Service Providers. Examples of such regulations relate to the use of QR Code label to receive money transfer to a third party, and the use of Point of Sales tools (POS) to exchange foreign currency and for payment for goods or services not within their stores. These constitute a violation of the Law on the Payment System.
Therefore, BOL issued the Notice for commercial banks, non-commercial financial institutions and legal entities that provide payment services to implement the following:
- Strict and heightened monitoring, inspection, and search of data of clients prior to providing payment services, especially those who use the products, channels, and payment tools of commercial banks, non-commercial financial institutions, and legal entities payment services providers.
- Widely disseminate to businesses and consumers their management rules and the use of their products through notices, advertising media, and social network.
- Carefully review the agreements/applications for using the products, channels, and payment tools that they entered into with the businesses and ensure that the latter comply with the relevant regulations relating to payment of products and services. They must ensure that the businesses are not in breach of the regulations.
- In cases where a business is found to have engaged or suspected of engaging in any activity that is in breach of the relevant rules and regulations, such business shall be stopped immediately, and the relevant information reported to BOL.
- Where there is suspicion that individuals, entities, and stores are using the payment services of commercial banks, non-commercial financial institutions, and legal entities for money laundering or terrorist financing, the information should be compiled and reported directly to the Anti-Money Laundering Intelligence Office (AMLIO), copying BOL.
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Dissolution of the Ministry of Science and Technology
On 25 February 2021, the Politburo Members of Lao People's Revolutionary Party ("Politburo Members") issued a resolution No. 06/PMLRP on the dissolution of the Ministry of Science and Technology ("Ministry"). The Politburo Members approved the dissolution of the Ministry, leaving Laos with just 16 ministries.
The departments and agencies under the Ministry, along with their public servants, works, equipment, and budget and assets will be transferred to the five departments under existing ministries including the Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and Ministry of Energy and Mines as appropriate.
The dissolution has been implemented for consolidation and to ensure that each ministry can efficiently deal with science and technology matters pertaining to its core purpose.
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Registration of Taxpayer Identification Numbers for Individuals
On 10 February 2021, the Ministry of Finance ("MOF") has issued Notice No.0831/MOF on the registration of Taxpayer Identification Numbers ("TINs") for individuals ("Notice"), including domestic and foreign individuals who have income in the territory of Lao PDR.
Under the Notice, domestic and foreign individuals, including civil servants, officials, soldiers, police, businesspeople, retailers, and online sellers, as well as sportspersons, performers, technicians, experts/specialists, consultants, employers, employees, workers, and labourers must register and obtain a TIN at a local tax office by 30 June 2021.
The required documents and information to be submitted for registration at local tax offices are the following:
- Valid ID Card/passport;
- Family registration book;
- All registered phone numbers;
- Occupation (must clearly specify the place of work, position, etc);
- All bank accounts; and
- Social security card number.
The Notice is issued in accordance with (i) Article 6 of the Law on Income Tax which provides that individuals, legal entities, or organisations that earn income from business operations or professional activities and other sources must pay income tax and must have a TIN; and (ii) Article 21 of the Tax Administration Law, which requires Lao citizens, aliens, foreigners, stateless persons, legal entities, or organisations conducting business activities or other income-generating activities inside or outside Lao PDR to pay taxes and obtain TINs.
The Notice aims to: (i) monitor domestic and foreign individuals who derive income in Lao PDR; (ii) manage the database of income earners to be able to collect revenue for the state budget accurately, completely, transparently, and fairly; and (iii) contribute to the socio-economic development of the nation. Through the Notice, MOF urges individuals to perform their obligations to the state by paying their taxes under the laws. Violations thereof will be dealt with strictly.
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Lao Government Issues Decision on Management and Monitoring, Treatment, Disposal of PCBs in the Transformer
On 30 December 2020, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Lao PDR ("MoNRE") issued Decision No.5925/MONRE on the Management and Monitoring, Treatment, Disposal of Polychlorinated Biphenyls ("PCBs") in the Transformer ("Decision"). The Decision sets out the principles, rules, and measures relating to the management and monitoring, treatment, and disposal of PCBs in the transformer and PCBs-contaminated wastes. The Decision applies to individuals, entities, or both domestic and foreign organisations conducting their business activities in Lao PDR.
MoNRE is in charge of conducting a survey of PCBs in the transformer and registering the same in the database. The Department of Natural Resources and Environment ("DoNRE") at the provincial level, in coordination with the relevant Departments/agencies, perform and carry out the survey and registration of PCBs in the transformer within its own areas, followed by a reporting to the administrative bodies at the province and Vientiane Capital. The Department of Pollution Control and Monitoring collects data across the nation, compiles the data of registered PCBs, and reports the same to MoNRE.
The owner of a transformer with PCBs or PCBs-contaminated wastes shall keep the transformer and associated wastes under the following conditions:
- The storage site must be safe and the warehouse must be designed following the technical standards in order to prevent the leakage of PCBs chemical agents into the environment. The warehouse must be a closed space with concrete floor, with a drainage system and a fence to prevent access of unauthorised individuals and animals.
- The location must have a distance of at least one kilometre from the communities, schools, hospitals, sources of water, and food production sites.
- The storage site shall have warning and prohibition signs at the entrance-exit.
- The container or packaging shall have a label and warning sign (in writing or illustration) indicating the hazard posed by the PCBs. The wording shall be in Lao and English.
In addition, the owner must report the status and conditions of the storage site to DoNRE, the Department of Energy and Mines, and the Department of Industry and Commerce every six months for inspection. In case of chemical leakage, spill, or emergency incident, the owner must take the necessary measures to prevent initial impact and at the same time report the incident to the local and central government.
In transporting transformers with PCBs or PCBs-contaminated wastes, the transporter must ensure the safety of the people, property, environment, and society. A warning sign in red character with words "Danger – Hazardous Substances" and a big red skull symbol must be placed at the front and rear side of the vehicle transporting these transformers with PCBs or PCBs-contaminated wastes.
The treatment and disposal facility of PCBs in the transformer shall be conducted at a place which is distant from communities or water resources. It must be conducted by an authorised service provider. The individuals, entities, or organisations intending to provide the services of treatment and disposal of PCBs and PCBs-contaminated wastes must obtain a business license from the Industry and Commerce Sector to be able to liaise with the Natural Resources and Environment Sector.
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Please note that whilst the information in this Update is correct to the best of our knowledge and belief at the time of writing, it is only
intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and should not be treated as a substitute for specific professional advice.