Somkid gives deadline for EEC signings

Somkid gives deadline for EEC signings

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak has given a deadline to the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office to speed up contract signings with private companies for the three remaining megaprojects by March.

"Schedules to begin construction have been delayed and government plans for these projects are very important for EEC development," he said.

The flagship EEC scheme has five planned megaprojects worth 695 billion baht in total. Two of them completed the contract signings with private companies in 2019: the high-speed railway linking three key airports (225 billion baht) and the third phase of Map Ta Phut seaport (55.4 billion).

There are three unfinished projects: the U-tapao aviation city (290 billion baht); a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centre (10.6 billion); and the third phase of Laem Chabang seaport (114 billion).

"All five projects have to begin construction within 2020, especially for the U-tapao aviation city and the MRO centre," said Mr Somkid.

He said the EEC Office was tasked with developing smart cities in Chachoengsao, one of the EEC's three provinces, expected to be the financial hub for the corridor.

"A framework for smart cities should be determined by March," said Mr Somkid.

"The smart cities will be under public-private partnership contracts, similar to the five megaprojects."

He said people's quality of life in Chachoengsao will be improved within three years because of the smart cities, particularly household incomes.

"The EEC Office is teaming up with the Public Works and Town and Country Planning departments to study smart city development in Chachoengsao," said Mr Somkid.

He said the government plans to bring other economic corridors to the North, Central, Northeast and South as part of the EEC Act of 2018.

In related news, the EEC Office reported actual investment in the three provinces in 2019 totalled 405 billion baht, higher than the government's target of 300 billion.

Kanit Sangsubhan, the office's secretary-general, said this increase in value came from many overseas roadshows attracting new investment and the EEC's megaprojects increasing investor confidence.

"The office expects the EEC will soon become the hub of trade and innovation, in line with 12 targeted industries," he said.

Mr Kanit said the government estimates the actual investment value in the corridor at 300 billion baht annually because the continued US-China trade row and political tensions between the US and Iran are key concerns pressuring global trade and investment.

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