Govt loans B8.5bn for regional roads
Thailand plans to grant 8.5-billion-baht in loans next year to Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia to build four new transnational roads under the Asean Connectivity initiative.
The cabinet will be asked to give approval for the infrastructure development. Observers say the fast-growing economies of Myanmar and Cambodia are not burdened with huge debts and should suit such an initiative.
"The interest rate for each road project is fixed at only 0.1%," Perames Vudthitornetiraks, chief of the Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency, said, adding Bangkok wants the projects to help boost the Great Mekong Subregion.
In Myanmar, a 138-kilometre road, worth 4 billion baht, will be built to link the Dawei special economic zone with tambon Namphu Ron in Kanchanaburi. "The Myanmar government is keen on developing this route," Mr Perames said.
Nay Pyi Taw hopes to use this road as a linkage between Thailand and countries around Bengal under the Bay of Bengal Initiative Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or BIMSTEC, via its Dawei deep seaport.
Bangkok also sees Kanchanaburi as an important gateway to Myanmar. It is currently building a new 96-km motorway connecting Nonthaburi's Bang Yai district to its western province.
Another one of the loans will be 1.2-billion-baht for Cambodia to build a 131-km road from Thailand to Cambodia. The route will pass through key areas in the neighbouring country, including Anlong Veng district and Siem Reap province.
The government also plans to finance the construction of a fifth Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, linking Bueng Kan, the northeastern province in Thailand, and Bolikhamsai province in Laos.
About 1.3 billion baht will be spent to build a section of the bridge on the Laos side.
Another road project in Laos is the 2-billion baht construction of a 147-km road, which will start in Nakhon Phanom, run through the city of Thakhek and go further to the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.