Panel aims to cut red tape for projects


Easing rules and regulations on public-private ventures for projects worth 1.5 billion baht will top the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Policy Committee's agenda tomorrow as the panel seeks to speed up infrastructure investment. 

"Wednesday will be the [committee's] final meeting, and the resolution will be forwarded to the cabinet for approval, while the process is expected to end in April after conducting public hearings in March," Finance Minister Sommai Phasee said yesterday.

"There is no need to get it [the resolution] through the legislation council, so it will be ready within the next couple of months, and all private-sector companies interested in joining PPP projects in Thailand can then go ahead."

Authorising responsible ministers to approve public projects worth less than 1 billion baht will also be included on tomorrow's agenda, Mr Sommai said, adding that projects worth more than 5 billion would remain subject to the committee's regulations.

The 3.3-trillion-baht infrastructure plan, spanning the eight years through 2022, is seen as crucial to revitalising the country's lacklustre economy.

Mr Sommai said the draft PPP strategic plan would also be approved by the committee in the coming weeks.

Spending on infrastructure megaprojects is expected to create construction-related jobs nationwide over the next eight years and boost medium-term economic growth.

"Once finished, we'll be more competitive from the cost reduction in transport to at least 2% of GDP from 14% now, while energy savings from lower fuel consumption will be more than 100 billion baht per year," Mr Sommai said.

He said sustainable economic growth would be enhanced by increased regional and border trade, while airport expansion would promote Thailand as a major tourist destination.

"More importantly, growth must also be inclusive," Mr Sommai said.

"Infrastructure will create new growth centres in other parts of the country and thereby help reduce income disparity and improve the quality of life for our citizens."

Regarding government plans to set up special economic zones (SEZs), the finance minister said the zones were being strategically placed near the borders of neighbouring countries to reduce production and labour costs.

Investors will play a greater role than the government in developing the SEZs, as Thai authorities will focus on developing infrastructure such as roads, electricity and water, Mr Sommai said.