Top Officials Defend Infrastructure Overhaul Project

    Mr. Chatchart Sittipan, Transport Minister, presenting the projects onstage.

    (30 July) Ministry of
    Finance held a meeting at Queen Sirikit Exhibition Centre, discussing about the 2-trillion-baht
    decree for infrastructure investment in Thailand.

    The two main guest speakers in 2 Trillion
    Baht Moving Forward were Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, and Mr.
    Chatchart Sittipan, Transport Minister.

    Mr. Kittirat had given some insight information about
    the investment on infrastructure, that it should be lower than 25% of national GDP. However, it has
    been nearly 10 years that Thailand had suffered economic crises, and had not been properly invested
    in infrastructure.

    “Before the crisis, the private sector and public sector had invested more
    than 42% of GDP”, Mr. Kittirat was cited, “however, after the crises, we had not invested over
    25%”.

    He also said that the maximum level of public debt is set to 60%, which should allow
    the government to create debts up to 1 trillion baht. However, each year, the government will create
    fund raising campaign and financial restructure worth 1.15 trillion to pay the debts.

    The
    information from Bank of Thailand, according to Mr. Kittirat, stated that the nation holds the
    liquidity of roughly 3 trillion baht a year, so if the 2 trillion baht is going to be gradually
    invested in each projects, the public debt would not reach its maximum.

    “2-trillion-baht
    investment on infrastructure would enhance the GPD growth of the country” Mr. Kittirat said “but I
    am not certain whether the private sector would join the investment because some of the projects do
    not yield obvious gain”.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Chatchart, vowed that the 2-trillion-baht decree will
    represent as the main Growth Engine to Thai Economy, enhancing the efficiency of basic
    infrastructures in the country to the level that can create prosperity, particularly in terms of
    Tourism and Services, AEC Connectivity, Urbanisation and Improving domestic consumption and
    demand.  .

    The Decree concludes of 53 mega project, including the controversial High
    Speed Train. Mr. Chatchart explained that the need to improve the Nation′s infrastructure in
    order to seize the opportunity as the central of the region would be great benefits once Thailand
    and her ASEAN fellows become ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.

    The population in AEC
    including those in China, number 1/3 of the World Population Mr. Chatchart said That is the number
    of people who can benefit from Thailand′s connectivity infrastructures

    In the past 10
    years, according to Mr. Chatchart, Thailand had lost its opportunity to develop Mega Project in
    infrastructure, and the country had lost 1.7 trillion baht economic damage, partly because of the
    occasional flood and political instability.

    Mr. Chatchart singled out the case of the
    dual-rail train, which in 1993 cost the government 80,000 million baht, however the cost had
    increased 5 times in 20 years, projecting at 400,000 million baht in 2013.

    Nevertheless, Mr.
    Chatchart also clarified that the government would not just borrow 2 trillion baht at
    once.

    “There are 53 projects in the plan” Said Mr. Chatchart, “Each authority will then
    propose the plan, and borrow the money needed for their plan.”

    “There are also some gains
    from finished programme which will support the liquidity of the decree as a whole.” Mr. Chatchart
    explained.

    The reason the decree was not represented as a national budget was due to
    political instability, which may affect the government spending. So by proposing the bill
    separately, the decree would still go on according to its timeline in 7 years.

    Mr. Chatchart
    acknowledged there are possibilities of corruption, but he said he trusted law enforcement and check
    balance system.

    Mr. Kittipos Jirakul, one of the attendants at the event, told Khaosod
    correspondent that he agreed with the plan because it would generate prosperity to the nation as a
    whole, while Ms. Suwanna Mekwilai, another attendant from southern Thailand, said that she believed
    that the plan should bring the country together.