Seven-year infrastructure plan centres on roads and rail
The controversial plan by the current government to borrow up to two trillion baht over the next seven years to fund a series of major road and rail networks is almost certain to pass parliament.
The government has laid out its plans which will see a massive investment in the basic infrastructure sectors of roads, rail and port facilities, aiming to bring them to a level which will see greater connectivity across the nation as the first priority, thereby supporting provincial growth, and improved links with Thailand’s ASEAN and other regional neighbours as the second priority.
The bulk of the two-trillion baht which is to be borrowed from overseas will be spent on transport upgrades and regional connectivity. An allocation of 1.042 trillion baht will be funnelled into high-speed trains and inter-city highways.
New light-rail mass transit routes will be expected to greatly improve movement in the greater Bangkok area. A high-speed train route will be constructed between Bangkok and Chiang Mai while a series of roads will create an East-West corridor that will permit ease of access between neighbours Laos and Cambodia in the East and Myanmar in the West. This is expected to take three years to complete.
One of the biggest complaints from the opposition parties in parliament is that the seven-year programme will saddle future governments with a debt that has to be paid over the next half century.
Of major interest to Pattaya and the Eastern Seaboard is the 593 billion baht allocated for transport development. This is to help fund the expansion of electric trains in and around Bangkok, as well as upgrade the road network links to industrial and tourist areas.
Of equal interest to the Chonburi and Rayong provinces is the 354.56 billion baht to be set aside for what is termed logistics improvement. This will involve the construction of dual-track railways, ports construction, and distribution centres.
The new railway lines will be built to the international standard 1.45 metre gauge, and when complete, will mean faster transit times for cargo across the country and, therefore, result in lower costs to industry.
Thailand will enter into talks under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to sign an Agreement on Government Procurement. This document commits signatories to engage in transparency when allocating tenders for public works programmes.
The government claims all tenders and each project up for bidding will be subject to vetting by the National Economic and Social Development Board. Also, all projects will be subjected to assessments on their environmental impact and that of public health.