Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is a unitary republic located in South East Asia. Its political system is structured around a single political party, the Peoples’ Revolutionary Party (LPRP). Decentralization in Laos has not been linear since the country’s independence in 1975. Until 1991, a significant level of autonomy and authority was allocated to provinces operating within a centrally planned economy. However, in 1991, Laos’ enacted a new constitution (revised in 2015) which entailed a major re-centralization of powers and reduced the role of local government (now referred to as “administration”) to supervising the implementation of (centrally-determined) policy at the local level. The Law on Local Administration (2015) divides local administration into three levels: provinces, districts, and villages. Starting in the 2000s, a new initiative began which aimed to allocate more power and autonomy to provinces and districts (known as the sam sang or “Three-Blocks” policy). In reality, subnational governance in Laos continues to be very tightly controlled by the central government and the Party.

Subnational governance structure

Nature of subnational governance institutions

Functional assignments

LoGICA Assessments

LoGICA Intergovernmental Profile: Laos 2024 (Excel)

Additional resources

Laos Country Profile (World Observatory on Subnational Governance and Investment, OECD/UCLG)

Laos PDR Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) Assessment 2018 (PEFA 2019)

Laos Public Finance Review (World Bank, 2023)

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Last updated: May 6, 2024