People have been urged to help monitor the Government’s 2.2-trillion-baht transportation and logistics mega-projects to ensure that they would be carried out with transparency.
Speaking in the weekly program “Yingluck Government Meets the People” on 23 March 2013, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong revealed that a new median bid price acceptable by all parties would be set for each project, and it would be considered together with the government procurement in the database of relevant agencies and budget allocation by the Ministry of Finance.
The Cabinet on 19 March 2013 approved a draft bill empowering the Ministry of Finance to borrow 2.2 trillion baht to finance the infrastructure mega-projects. The draft bill will be debated in the first reading by the House of Representatives on 28-29 March 2013. Mr. Kittiratt said that during the closure of the parliamentary session in the middle of April, a House committee to be formed to scrutinize the bill is expected to look into this legislation before it is submitted to the House of Representatives for the second and third readings.
He stated that the Government would seek an extraordinary House session in May to debate the 2014 national budget bill. During this period, he expects that the draft bill on the 2.2-trillion-baht loan would be considered in its second and third readings. The next step is that the draft bill would be forwarded to the Senate for consideration.
He said that the Permanent Secretary for Finance and the Director of the Public Debt Management Office had told the Cabinet that they would ensure that public debt, which would increase as a result of this huge investment, would not exceed 50 percent of GDP, although Thailand has set its public debt ceiling at not over 60 percent of GDP.
He explained that, since the 2.2-trillion-baht loan would be separated from the annual national expenditure, the Government would be able to set a balanced national budget in the next few years. This huge investment in the mega-projects is meant to enhance the country’s potential and competitiveness in the long run. He pointed out that the assets resulting from this investment would benefit the country for a long period, even after debt repayment is completed.
According to Mr. Kittiratt, debt repayment for the projects will be made gradually, so that it will not cause a burden to the annual national expenditure. It is expected that the Government will be able to repay the loan within the next 50 years, or before. The Government has proposed that the loan be secured by 31 December 2020. He said that Thailand’s financial liquidity now was sufficient for securing the two-trillion-baht loan gradually over the next seven years.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt said that construction of several transportation and logistics mega-projects would begin next year. The Government has planned 10 routes for the high-speed train system and three more routes for the electric train system. It has also spent regular funds on studies of these projects.