All EEC infrastructure plans get nod
Panel backs projects valued at B230bn
The much-touted Eastern Economic Corridor is moving a crucial step forward after all key infrastructure development projects yesterday received the nod from the EEC policy committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
According to Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of EEC Office, the committee yesterday approved an additional three infrastructure projects worth combined 230.3 billion baht.
The projects are the third phase of the Laem Chabang deep-sea port, the third phase of the Map Ta Phut deep-sea port, and the double-track rail network linking the country’s three key ports, Map Ta Phut, Laem Chabang and Sattahip port.
The EEC Policy Committee earlier in April approved a 310.4 billion baht portion of the expansion plan for U-tapao airport and the proposed aviation city (Aerotropolis), and 215 billion baht for the high-speed rail network linking the key airports of Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao.
The expansion of U-tapao airport and aviation city (Aerotropolis), the third phase of the Laem Chabang port, the third phase of Map Ta Phut port, and the double-track rail network linking the three key ports will be developed under the public-private partnership programme touted by the government.
The double-track rail network linking the ports will be developed by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT).
Ekniti Nitithanprapas, director-general of the State Enterprise Policy Office, said the committee yesterday also approved the PPP fast-track process for the four projects.
This will cut the process covering the investment project’s preparation, the project’s proposal, and the selection of companies taking part to only 8-9 months from the 20 months which would be needed normally.
The PPP fast-track scheme is expected to be announced soon in the Royal Gazette before the government opens the bids for the private sector to build or run the infrastructure projects, possibly early next year.
The committee also yesterday announced the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation at Wangchan Valley, Rayong as the promotional zone for innovation industry, and the Economic Corridor of Digital Park Thailand at Sri Racha, Chon Buri on 709 rai as the promotional zone for the digital economy.
Mr Kanit said a start to the infrastructure needed for the EEC project would help entice private investors to take part.
The government expects the private investment in the EEC will amount to 500 billion baht in five years. Domestic liquidity should be sufficient for the scheme.
“The office expects to be able to persuade at least 30 world-class companies to invest in the EEC over five years. Airbus and Boeing have already agreed to invest in the aviation city while the government is approaching Rolls-Royce,” said Mr Kanit.
The Board of Investment reported that between 2015-2016, out of total 280 billion baht of investment applications in the three provinces of EEC, 198 billion baht went to 10 targeted industries.
In the first five months of this year, applications amounted to 23.4 billion baht in the EEC, while 14.2 billion baht of applications went to 10 targeted industries.
The EEC has been heavily promoted by the government as a new special economic zone to attract foreign investment, with mixed results to date.
The corridor spans more than 30,000 rai in the three eastern provinces of Rayong, Chon Buri and Chachoengsao.
The area is meant to be Thailand’s new growth engine through 10 targeted industries: next-generation cars; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; and medical services.