EEC bill passes first reading

EEC bill passes first reading

Hundreds of Japanese investors visit U-Tapao airport in Rayong province in mid-September to explore investment opportunities in the EEC. (Photo by Phrakrit Juntawong)
Hundreds of Japanese investors visit U-Tapao airport in Rayong province in mid-September to explore investment opportunities in the EEC. (Photo by Phrakrit Juntawong)

The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) on Thursday accepted the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) bill in its first reading and would have its committee scrutinise the bill in 60 days.

Proposing the bill to the assembly, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said the government expected the EEC to drive economic growth and attract foreign investment and advanced-technology transfers.

According to him, the East was chosen because of its high economic development potential, infrastructure and transport readiness, as well as numerous upstream industries. The bill will facilitate the EEC development, which is complicated and involves many dimensions of development.

Mr Somkid said the bill would be a model for the development of other significant areas.

The EEC comprises three provinces -- Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong. Other areas in the East can be added later by a royal decree.

The bill offered privileges to investors such as the rights to own land and properties, bring in foreigners and conduct certain financial transactions. They will also be eligible for tax exemption or reduction and other benefits. The details of the privileges will be defined by a committee.

Many NLA members expressed their environmental concern because the bill allowed land reclamation in the sea without seeking approval under maritime and fishery laws.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam explained that the bill would cut red tape for land reclamation, which would otherwise have to seek approval from the ministers of transport, defence and natural resources, as well as the cabinet.

The EEC is located in what was previously known as the Eastern Seaboard spanning in more than 30,000 rai in the three provinces.

It is designed to accommodate 10 targeted industries: next-generation cars; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; and medical services.

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