Section 44 eyed to transfer state land for SEZs

Section 44 eyed to transfer state land for SEZs

A worker loads goods to export to Laos at a border port in Mukdahan, a province that is designated to host a special economic zone. (Bangkok Post file photo)
A worker loads goods to export to Laos at a border port in Mukdahan, a province that is designated to host a special economic zone. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Industry Ministry plans to apply Section 44, which allows the military to deal with some issues, to land transfers in order to acquire land to be developed as special economic zones (SEZs) more quickly.

Industry Minister Chakramon Phasukvanich said Section 44 would shorten the complicated process of paperwork in land transfers, especially for land owned by other government bodies and state enterprises, which have different laws and regulations.

"The procedure to change ownership of state land is quite long and complicated. For instance, moving land from the Forestry and the Treasury departments can take up to one to two years. Section 44 should help shorten that process so we can develop land as SEZs faster," he said.

Mr Chakramon explained that transferring land ownership from the Forestry Department requires an elaborate investigation into whether the land is a conservation area.

Initially the Industry Ministry expected to set aside around 10,000 rai of land to be taken from other state agencies and state enterprises to be developed for the first phase of the SEZs, covering five provinces.

"The government wants to accelerate this policy so that it is finished before its term in office expires," he said.

The government selected the areas to be developed as SEZs in border provinces ahead of the Asean Economic Community slated to start in late 2015, with the provinces comprising Sa Kaeo, Trat, Tak, Mukdahan, Nong Khai and Songkhla for the first phase.

Mr Chakramon said the plan to use Section 44 in acquiring land for the SEZs would also help solve the problem of surging land prices caused by speculation over the zones.

"The government will use Section 44 very carefully. We think it's fine to use such a measure when dealing with government organisations and not people," said Mr Chakramon.

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