Your Excellencies, Mr Choummaly Sayasone, President of the Lao PDR, Mr Abhisit Vejjajiva, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, Mr Pierre Lellouche, Secretary of State of France with Responsibility for Foreign Trade; and Mr Haruhiko Kuroda, President of the Asian Development Bank.
I am honored and delighted to be here today to congratulate the government of Lao PDR, the Nam Theun Power Company, and all of the investors and supporters of Nam Theun 2.
The project is a remarkable accomplishment: it is a feat of engineering, a boon to conservation, an aid to capacity building and revenue management, and most importantly, a powerful asset that is helping to reduce poverty and support environmental protection.
NT2 has defied the doubters who claimed such a complex project couldn’t be done in a poor country.
It has demonstrated that large industrial projects can contribute to socially and environmentally sustainable development when they are managed with appropriate care.
And it is showing that the private sector and public sector can work together in support of a shared goal even when confronted with intense scrutiny and, at times, even opposition.
NT2 has truly been transformational for Lao PDR. With support from 27 financing parties from around the world, Nam Theun 2 has helped usher in reforms to budgeting and spending, to consultation, resettlement, environmental protection and national policy planning.
The $2 billion in revenues the project will generate over the next 25 years will increase public spending on poverty reduction and environmental protection programs.
In fact, this has already begun. Since the start of commercial operations on April 30, the government has spent almost $6 million on poverty reduction and development programs.
NT2 has also stimulated growth and foreign investment that will help the government to achieve its ambitious goal of becoming a middle income country by 2020.
The project has also contributed to strengthened policies, institutions, systems and practices that will shape Lao PDR’s development far into the future.
For our part, the World Bank will stay closely involved in the ongoing implementation of the NT2 project for years to come.
We also look forward to working with the Government to apply the lessons from NT2 to the hydropower sector more broadly, so that future projects are developed sustainably and the benefits are shared by all Lao people.