NESDB: Transport projects a boon to investment
Construction of 18 infrastructure projects worth 724 billion baht announced for 2018 is expected to boost investment this year.
The National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) reported that all 18 projects were under construction as of May 8.
Of these projects, 14 have a cumulative worth of 705 billion baht and are part of the 20-project infrastructure plan created in 2016 that includes 1.38 trillion baht in investments.
The remaining four projects are worth a cumulative 18.5 billion baht and are part of the 36-project infrastructure plan made in 2017 that includes investments totalling 895.75 billion baht.
Wichayayuth Boonchit, deputy secretary-general of the NESDB, said 13 projects worth 696.54 billion baht are being proposed to the cabinet. Among these are a 224.54-billion-baht high-speed railway linking Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao airports; and the second phase of a double-track rail linking Pak Nam Pho-Den Chai-Chiang Mai-Chiang Khong, Jira (Nakhon Ratchasima)-Ubon Ratchathani, Khon Kaen-Nong Khai, Chumphon-Surat Thani-Songkhla, Den Chai-Ban Phai-Nakhon Phanom and Hat Yai-Padang Besar.
Also included are the Light Red Line connecting Taling Chan-Salaya and Taling Chan-Siriraj; the Dark Red Line spanning Rangsit-Thammasat; and the north route of the third-phase expressway.
Projects still in the open auction stage include the Purple Line's Tao Pun-Rat Burana section and the Rama lll-Dao Khanong third-phase expressway. These projects are worth a cumulative 165.51 billion baht, Mr Wichayayuth said.
There are 12 projects, worth a cumulative 542.9 billion baht, being proposed to the committee on public-private partnership (PPP). These projects include the Bangkok-Hua Hin high-speed rail; Nakhon Pathom-Cha-am motorway; Hat Yai-Malaysia border motorway; Kratu-Patong motorway; the Orange Line for Taling Chan-Thailand Cultural Centre; the third phase of Laem Chabang port; and the maintenance, repair and overhaul centre at U-tapao.
Infrastructure development is expected to boost private investment this year, Mr Wichayayuth said.
The NESDB reported that private investment was up 3.1% year-on-year in the first quarter, an improvement on 2.5% growth in the second half of 2017 and 0.9% logged in the first half of 2017.
The agency forecasts 3.9% growth in private investment this year, in line with increasing industrial capacity. The agency reported that seven out of 21 manufacturing sectors are operating at 80% capacity.
In the first quarter of 2018, industrial capacity stood at 72.4%, the highest in five years, compared with 69.6% in the first quarter of 2017 and 67.4% in the last quarter of 2017.
The agency also reported a rise in Board of Investment applications. In 2017, there were 642 billion baht worth of applications, up 22.4% from the same period in 2016. Applications in the first quarter this year totalled 203.6 billion baht, up 228.5% from the same period last year.
Mr Wichayayuth said the state disbursed 348.57 billion baht as of March 31, or 54.8% of its total investment budget for fiscal 2018, up 44% year-on-year. Government investment is forecast to grow 8.6% this year.