Govt pushes B2tr capital plan

Govt pushes B2tr capital plan

The government will seek to approve major projects under its 2-trillion-baht infrastructure expenditure scheme before its term expires next year, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said yesterday.

Mr Somkid said the next government then would have to press on with these projects till their completion, which are mostly road and rail projects that link with those in neighbouring countries.

The cabinet has already approved several dual track rail projects such as the Jira Junction-Khon Kaen, the mass transit projects known as the Orange Line, the Yellow Line, the Pink Line and the Red Line, while other projects will soon be approved, he said.

Mr Somkid said three motorways -- Pattaya-Map Ta Phut, Bang Yai-Kanchanaburi and Bang Pa-In Nakhon Ratchasima -- have been approved by the cabinet and three more will be approved by the year-end.

Water transport projects, port and high-speed rail plans will also be approved this year and next year.

He said the first section of the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima Thai-Chinese rail link is expected to be approved this year and the next step will be to develop a link to railway services in Laos.

Japan also has shown an intention to conduct feasibility studies for the high-speed Bangkok-Padang Besar rail project and for the East West corridor's Mae Sot-Mukdahan rail project, said Mr Somkid.

He said the government will also kick off development of a new industrial zone in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), which will be a foundation of Thailand's development in the next 30 years.

The cabinet soon will approve the EEC draft law and a plan to develop infrastructure, including U-tapao airport, sea ports and the Bangkok-Rayong high-speed rail.

Under the government's so-called Thailand 4.0 plan, new growth engines include agriculture, health, the digital and creative economy, and smart devices. Mr Somkid said Thailand also needs to reform education, narrow the income gap and help low income earners.

He said economic growth was 2.8% in 2015. It was 3.2% in the first quarter, and 3.5% in the second quarter. However, low income earners and the middle class have yet to benefit from economic growth.

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