Chadchart vows transparency in Bt2-trillion spending
Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt today fielded a long list of questions while giving testimony regarding the government's Bt2-trillion infrastructure investment plan to the House Committee on the Economy.
The testimony came a week before the borrowing bill is due to undergo parliamentary scrutiny on March 27-28.
"Not all the projects will be implemented at once. Some were initiated in 2005, like the second phase four-lane road project, and delayed due to insufficient funds," Chadchart said. "The borrowing bill is being pursued as we want to put all projects through thorough screening. Throughout the seven-year [implementation] period, this will place binding commitments on all parties. Like members of an orchestra, all will be playing from the same score."
Present at the hearing were representatives from the Fiscal Policy Office, National Economic and Social Development Board, Budget Bureau, Public Debt Management Office, Office of Traffic and Transport Policy and Planning, Highways Department, Thailand Development Research Institute and Krung Thai Bank. The committee is chaired by Democrat MP Chanin Rungsang.
Chadchart noted that unless they get underway now, improvements to the rail network could be forced to wait another 10 years.
Responding to criticism that, in the absence of proper screening of projects, the bill is tantamount to a blank cheque, Chadchart said that all projects require approval by the NESDB. The government could not immediately come up with the full details of all projects to be implemented during the seven-year period. Yet, these projects are under the government's broad strategy and some are in line with its original schedules, he said. For example, the Blue and Orange mass-transit lines, included in the plan, would be put up for bids next year as scheduled.
He insisted that details of all projects would be ready for screening, saying that the borrowing bill itself runs for over 200 pages.
The representative of the Fiscal Policy Office said that if any changes are made to the projects annexed to the borrowing bill, parliamentary re-screening would be necessary. Meanwhile, there will be no funding for projects that fail to win NESDB approval.