Work on BoI


-approved SME projects expected to start in second half of 2015

THE BOARD of Investment said that most small and medium-sized projects approved by the BoI last year were expected to start their construction process in the second half of this year and the BoI was maintaining its target of approving projects valued at Bt350 billion this year.

The BoI, chaired by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha, yesterday approved 23 projects worth Bt77.228 billion. They are satisfied that all projects approved in BoI's first round this year are within its new seven-year investment strategy to focus on innovative technology and projects that support economic development.

The BoI had approved 3,469 projects worth Bt2.192 trillion in 2014.

"Approvals were sought for projects worth around Bt2 billion in December alone and most of them are still in the approval process," said Hiranya Sujinai, acting secretary-general of BoI. "Some other projects that had been approved earlier should be able to begin investments by the second half of this year, especially projects that are worth less than Bt200 million or those that already have a construction site.

"I see this as a good thing as it proves that there will be real investment. Most of the approvals since the beginning of this year are mostly for software, cloud service, and data centres, which should be able to complement well projects approved last year," said Hiranya.

"Usually, 80-90 per cent of projects seeking BoI approvals translate into real investment but some projects, such as those involving the construction of a factory, may take on average up to three years. First, they have to search for a suitable site, seek relevant permits and look for machinery. So, we expect that 80-90 per cent of the 2.1 trillion that were approved last year will gradually go on stream within the three-year time frame," she added. Projects involving Japanese firms continue to be No 1 among those seeking BoI privileges.

Hiranya said that all of the 23 projects that were approved yesterday were within the target of the BoI and corresponded to the agency's new strategy such as projects that support the digital economy and international trade agency. The current target for the total value of projects seeking privileges by the end of this year is not low as the BoI is aiming to provide privileges only for projects truly needed by the country.

"The target of Bt350 billion might seem small but it is not when one considers the annual average is between Bt350 billion to Bt400 billion. Last year, the amount was higher than usual because we were changing our strategy and more companies were rushing for approvals before the change in privileges. If all of the approved projects this year are within our target and valued at Bt350 billion, it would mean that we have successfully reached the goal that we had set for this year," she said.

Around Bt30 billion worth of projects approved yesterday are investments in renewable energy and around Bt34 billion investments in the airline industry while the remaining are investments in higher technology machinery and parts used in ceramic, metal, printing and automobile industries.

Meanwhile, PM Prayuth has ordered the creation of a subcommittee under the BoI to compile all investment information on projects currently supported by the government. State agencies and state-supported agencies such as the Commerce and Labour ministries, the Bank of Thailand, the Federation of Thai Industries, and the Thai Chamber of Commerce among others will be asked to comply so that the government and the BoI can gain faster access to such investment information in the future.