NESDC told to focus on expediting infrastructure

NESDC told to focus on expediting infrastructure

The government's planning unit, the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), has been ordered to speed up prioritising state infrastructure projects, notably those that enhance Thailand's competitiveness and need quick approval from the government.

Priority projects should be proposed to the next economic ministers' meeting in early January, said Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, who yesterday had a joint meeting with the NESDC's senior officials.

Mr Somkid also told the NESDC to monitor the progress of the government's flagship Eastern Economic Corridor and closely work with related agencies to map out the next phase of development plans, including the Southern Economic Corridor, the Bio-Economy Corridor in northeastern and central regions and the Lanna Creative Corridor in North.

He said Bio-Economy Corridor development will create immense opportunities in Thailand because it will be located on the East-West Economic Corridor, a scheme in which Japan is also interested.

The East-West Economic Corridor is an economic development programme initiated to promote development and integration of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The concept was agreed upon in 1998 at the Ministerial Conference of the Greater Mekong Subregion, organised in Manila. This corridor began operations on Dec 12, 2006.

Mr Somkid said Thailand needs to speed up area-based development projects to support the Japan-initiated Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, citing progress in Myanmar, India and Vietnam.

The NESDC was also ordered to team up with the Bank for Agricultural and Agricultural Cooperatives to help design comprehensive aid packages to address income disparity, reduce poverty and lower debt in the low-income segment.

The two bodies were also tasked with helping small and medium-sized enterprises with funding sources, debt rehabilitation and business enhancement.

More importantly, the NESDC was assigned to come up with a human resource development plan, possibly in tandem with the Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Ministry.

Thosaporn Sirisamphand, secretary-general of the NESDC, said yesterday from 2020-22 the government is estimated to splurge about 1.02 trillion baht on infrastructure projects, with 244 billion slated for 2020, 379 billion for 2021 and 403 billion for 2022.

Among the 244 billion baht budgeted for 2020, the NESDC reported the cabinet has approved 129 projects worth 215 billion, with 11 projects worth 16.6 billion approved by the NESDC and in line to be proposed to the cabinet for approval.

Some 35 projects worth 12.2 billion baht are pending the NESDC's study and approval.

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