EEC civilian law hits another snag

EEC civilian law hits another snag

Panel aims to make draft bill 'flawless'

The implementation of the first civilian law for the government's flagship investment area, the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), is expected to be delayed another month because the vetting process is taking longer than expected, says Veerapong Chaiperm, the governor of the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT).

"The implementation process is likely to happen in January 2018, about a month later than the previous deadline," he said.

The panel scrutinising the EEC draft law wants to make sure it is flawless as it will govern all business and investment issues in the corridor.

The EEC is a massive new investment area spanning the three eastern provinces of Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao. The EEC is targeted to accommodate next-generation industries.

This is the third delay of the law, which was previously scheduled to come into effect in June. Mr Veerapong said the delay is unlikely to affect foreign investor confidence.

He said the government can still use Section 44, which gives the Prime Minister sweeping powers to implement orders, to steer the EEC issue.

Section 44 was recently used to accelerate city planning in the EEC to pave the way for the quick start of massive infrastructure projects.

Following the implementation of the law early next year, the government is due to finish the details of its public-private partnership (PPP) regulations to allow investors to take part in EEC infrastructure projects, said EEC Office secretary-general Kanit Sangsubhan.

He said the details of the PPP are expected to be concluded and announced to the public by the first quarter of 2018.

"After the PPP regulations are done, we will be ready to draft the terms of reference to allow private firms to join the projects, " he said, adding that infrastructure funding will mark the start of real investment in the EEC.

Mr Kanit said investment in major infrastructure projects expected to begin next year include the expansion of Map Ta Phut Phase 3, which is overseen by the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand.

Map Ta Phut Phase 3, valued at 10 billion baht, is one project for which investment will be conducted via the PPP model.

Mr Veerapong said there are investors from Hong Kong, South Korea and China who have expressed interest in the project.

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