Thailand will invest 350 billion baht, or 11.5 billion US dollars, in a well-integrated water management infrastructure and flood prevention system. It will also invest 2.2 trillion baht, or 66.7 billion dollars, in transportation and logistics projects.
Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi spoke about Thailand’s huge investments in the future, in his inaugural address at the Ministerial Segment of the Sixty-ninth Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) on 29 April 2013 at the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok.
The theme topic for the annual session is “Building Resilience to Natural Disasters and Major Economic Crises.”
Mr. Plodprasop stated that building resilience to natural disasters and major economic crises calls for a new paradigm of thinking. It is imperative that this new paradigm will be taken further in the deliberation of the post-2015 development agenda.
He explained that Thailand was not without disasters of its own. The flood crisis in 2011 caused severe damage to Thailand’s economy and society. In comparison to natural disasters around the globe, this mega-flood was perhaps ranked the fourth since 2005.
For Thailand, he said, this flood crisis provided an important opportunity to re-evaluate and thus introduce a holistic and integrated approach to water management and flood prevention. This includes the establishment of a much-needed single command authority to coordinate water management work, which is capable of making prompt decisions while monitoring day-to-day situations and during times of crisis.
Thailand will host the 2nd Asia-Pacific Water Summit on 19-20 May 2013 in Chiang Mai. At this summit, leaders of the Asia-Pacific region will come together to share views and foster cooperation under the theme “Water Security and Water-Related Disaster Challenges: Leadership and Commitment.”
Mr. Plodprasop said that another significant prerequisite for resilience is economic growth, which can be achieved through economic integration and regional connectivity. With this mindset, he said, the Thai Parliament had approved an act that would allow huge investment in transportation and logistics projects in the country. This includes high-speed trains and dual train track development, as well as better road networks linking the Greater Mekong Subregion and ASEAN economic corridors, sea ports, and border facilities.
He pointed out that these investments are being made to ensure Thailand’s competitiveness, which is one of the four pillars of its long-term national strategy. The remaining three strategies are building the country’s growth to make it more inclusive, restructuring the economy and society so that it becomes greener, and improving the country’s internal process to ensure more balanced, resilient, and sustainable growth in the long run.
Moreover, these investments will consolidate Thailand’s role as the region’s connectivity and logistics hub, supplementing the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity and ESCAP’s “Asian Highway” and the “Trans-Asian Railway.”