While the government must ensure corruption-free bidding for the 2-trillion-baht infrastructure schemes, the public should not let their fears of graft disrupt investments that are key to driving the economy, Transport Minister Chatchart Sithipan said.
Chatchart: Country must come first
Corruption and infrastructure investments are two different issues that the public should not relate to each other.
"People should not be afraid of corruption to the extent that nothing can be done [in terms of investment]. If so, the country will not be able to move on. [The public] needs to consider the necessity for the country," he told the annual meeting of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) yesterday.
About 78% of the 2 trillion baht will be spent on railways, with 300 billion baht of the budget to be spent annually over a the seven-year period.
'Investment is 2-3% of the country's gross domestic product per year," Mr Chatchart said, adding that Thailand spends less than 5% of its GDP on infrastructure.
Mr Chatchart also expressed confidence that the infrastructure budget will be approved by the cabinet today.
"The Democrat Party has a right to bring the issue to court, but the Transport Ministry has consistently been in talks with the Council of State," he said.
FTI vice-chairman Vallop Vitanakorn said the government should focus in the first year of investment on setting up special economic zones in border areas to facilitate cargo trucks coming in and out of Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar, while banks should set up branches in neighbouring countries to support Thai firms.
In another development, senior FTI members are calling on the Industry Ministry to step into the FTI's internal row in which each side has filed complaints to the police against the other.
The opposition group wants chairman Payungsak Chartsutthipol to resign.
About the author
- Writer: Nanchanok Wongsamuth
Position: News Reporter