State sets B40bn cap for Yellow, Pink lines

State sets B40bn cap for Yellow, Pink lines

The Purple Line electric trains have been undergoing test runs since late last year. The line, running from Nonthaburi's Bang Yai district to Bangkok's Bang Sue district is scheduled to commence operation in August. CHANAT KATANYU
The Purple Line electric trains have been undergoing test runs since late last year. The line, running from Nonthaburi's Bang Yai district to Bangkok's Bang Sue district is scheduled to commence operation in August. CHANAT KATANYU

The government is set to invest a maximum of 20 billion baht apiece for the upcoming Yellow and Pink mass transit lines under the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.

Yesterday's meeting of the PPP Committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak gave the nod to the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA) to implement the 34.5-kilometre Pink Line (Khae Rai-Min Buri), costing 56.7 billion baht, and the 30km Yellow Line (Lat Phrao-Samrong), worth 54.6 billion.

"The two mass-transit lines will be the first PPP fast-track investment projects that will cut the approval process for joint investment to nine months from two years under the normal process," Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said.

In a bid to attract private sector investment, the government will invest no more than 20 billion baht in each project.

Mr Apisak said the government would cover the land expropriation costs and many of the civil works for the two electrically powered monorail lines.

The private sector will be allowed to invest in the remaining civil engineering projects, trains, operating systems and maintenance services under a 30-year concession.

Mr Apisak expects the MRTA will ask for cabinet approval this month.

The screening committee is slated to be set up in May to prepare the terms of reference and open bids for construction in June.

The trains are projected to be up and running in 2020.

The government last November put five projects worth a combined 334 billion baht on the front burner under the PPP scheme, giving them a mandate to get off the ground in the second half of this year.

They comprise three mass-transit routes in Bangkok, worth a combined 194 billion baht, and two interprovincial motorways worth 140 billion.

The two motorways will link Ayutthaya's Bang Pa-in district with Nakhon Ratchasima and Nonthaburi's Bang Yai district with Kanchanaburi.

The government is pinning its hopes on public investment in big-ticket infrastructure projects to help rev up private investment and take the place of exports as the main engine of the Thai economy. 

The government has set a target of boosting private investment growth to 10% this year after a study found it is in a downward trend.

Increasing investment by that amount is expected to raise GDP growth to 5% and eventually solve the middle-income trap.

From 2000-05, Thailand's private investment grew by an average of 9% a year, pushing GDP growth to 5.3%. But investment growth dropped to 2% from 2006-14, resulting in GDP growth of 3.4%.

Mr Apisak said the committee yesterday ordered responsible agencies to speed up the approval process for the other three fast-track PPP projects, particularly for the two motorway projects.

The relevant authorities are now in the process of inviting interested parties to jointly invest in the two motorways, he said.

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