Cabinet okays PPP Promotion Act draft bill

Cabinet okays PPP Promotion Act draft bill

The cabinet yesterday greenlighted a long-awaited draft bill of the PPP Promotion Act, which aims to facilitate and ensure transparency in joint public-private investment in infrastructure projects.

Ekniti Nititanprapas, director-general of the State Enterprise Policy Office (Sepo), said the new act, which repeals and replaces the Private Investment in State Undertakings Act, will also conform with international standards, the country's national economic and social development plan, effective risk management, and mutual benefits between the public and private sectors.

The new act is expected to encourage the private sector to team up more with the government in developing infrastructure and public services, expedite infrastructure development and ensure greater efficiency.

Mr Ekniti said that under the new act the cabinet is empowered to tackle obstacles and any delays caused by state regulations and ministerial regulations for the Thailand Future Fund that will be issued to financially support the PPP development projects.

The prospective PPP developments cover 12 categories of the national infrastructure plan: roads (highways and motorways), railways, airports, seaports, water management, irrigation, energy, telecommunications, science/technology, hospitals, schools and housing for low-income earners.

The government may include more categories in the PPP development plans, Mr Ekniti said.

He said four state agencies have been tasked with screening PPP projects: the National Economic and Social Development Board, the Finance Ministry, the Public Debt Management Office and the Budget Bureau.

Mr Ekniti said the PPP Promotion Act also lets the public inspect all stages of the PPP process of each project. It requires project owners to conduct market soundings.

"Once the PPP Promotion Act is enforced, the law will help to drive infrastructure ad public services and enhance Thailand's competitiveness," Mr Ekniti said.

The PPP committee last year approved a five-year strategic plan for joint investment projects worth 1.62 trillion baht. The scheduled projects are intended to accelerate infrastructure investment amid budget constraints and sharpen the country's competitive edge.

Under the five-year strategic plan through 2021, 94% of the 1.62-trillion-baht budget will involve transport infrastructure and overall logistic costs are projected to be cut by 2-3 percentage points from 13-14% of GDP once the projects are completed.

The transport projects under the five-year PPP strategic plan will be divided into two groups: projects for which the government wants the private sector to play a role, such as high-speed trains, rail systems in Bangkok and ports for shipping goods; and projects in which the government is encouraging the private sector to invest, such as airports and motorways.

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