The state is committed to moving ahead with an intercity motorway from Nonthaburi's Bang Yai district to Kanchanaburi province at a cost of 45 billion baht, be it with or without the Dawei project.
''The Thai government can continue building the 96-kilometre motorway without waiting for the conclusion of the Dawei project,'' said Prime Minister's Office Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan.
''A feasibility study by the Transport Ministry shows the motorway could generate an investment return of as much as 15%, which is attractive enough for a public-private partnership.''
Mr Niwatthamrong said motorway construction is expected to begin late this year and finish in 2015.
The Transport Ministry also expects to complete a feasibility study by year-end for the adjoining 70-km motorway from Kanchanaburi to Ban Nam Phu Ron village on the Thai-Myanmar border. This extension project is expected to finish in 2015.
''The government can continue infrastructure development projects in Thailand because they are our responsibility,'' said Mr Niwatthamrong.
According to a study by the government's planning unit, the investment cost for the Dawei project in Myanmar has risen to nearly 325 billion baht to reflect higher construction costs, up from 200 billion projected two years ago by Italian-Thai Development Plc.
Of the total investment figure, 249 billion baht will be spent in Myanmar and the rest in Thailand.
The first phase of the massive project requires 205 billion baht, while the cost for the second phase is 120 billion.
Thailand is due to host a joint high-level committee for the development of the Dawei special economic zone and related projects next month.
Viroj Chongchansittho, the managing director of Klong Toey port, said Dawei's port can be built once a special-purpose vehicle or holding firm for investment has been set up.
But he said investment in the port should be made on a step-by-step basis.
Chanvit Amatamatucharti, deputy secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board, on Wednesday said special-purpose vehicles for investment in Dawei will be set up within three months.
Mr Niwatthamrong said the government expects a clearer direction on the project in April once the Finance Ministry finishes a study on types of investments.
''It's quite certain Japan will join the holding company, as this is a strategic location,'' he said.
About the author
- Writer: Chatrudee Theparat
Position: Business Reporter