A development in the value-added tax (VAT) sphere of Laos has caused quite a stir on social media recently, following the issuance of a Decision by the Ministry of Finance and its subsequent reporting in the media. Given the ‘hoo-hah’ surrounding the development, we thought we’d weigh in with some commentary on it.
The Lao Government ‘slipped through’ a revised tax law recently (Amended Tax Law No. 70/NA, dated 15 December 2015), with the law set to take effect next week on 24 May 2016. But fear not: much of the revised law is similar to the law it replaces, the Tax Law (2011), with a few new inclusions, revisions and corrections.
Attempting to start a business in Laos can be a little daunting, however there is a basic structure and process to follow. Laos is considered one of the most difficult countries in the world in which to start a business, due to the time between lodging an application and receiving all your necessary paperwork. However, as we can see all around us, companies do get established, and more and more investors are coming here to do business.
One issue that should be kept in mind is that some industries are actually closed to foreign investment, so if you are thinking of starting a business here it is best to find out if you are able to invest in your chosen industry before you spend a great deal of time, money and heartache attempting to do something that you cannot actually do.
In January 2014, the new Labour Law (2013) was formally approved, replacing the Labour Law (2006). The new law is the result of extensive discussions between the various Lao authorities, private sector entities and development organisations, and introduces a number of changes to the basic rules of employment in Laos, including the employment of foreign workers.
As many foreigners have discovered to their dismay, marrying or divorcing a Lao citizen is not a straightforward process. Unlike most other jurisdictions, a foreigner must obtain the permission of the Lao government in order to marry a Lao. The overall process involves the presentation of a number of documents, interviews and assessment of the application by various government offices.
Here in Laos there is a system of ‘notarising’ and ‘registering’ various documents that are used in everyday life and for business purposes, and is generally a requirement in enforcing contracts.