Infrastructure scheme touted to Belgian, Swedish investors
Thailand is moving ahead with its campaign to woo foreign investment through promises of free trade and eased infrastructure gridlock.
Accompanying Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to Sweden and Belgium from Monday to yesterday, Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said she briefed investors in both countries about Thailand's |Bt2-trillion infrastructure investment plan, while he highlighted to them the country's wide range of industries, from heavy to agriculture.
The infrastructure investment over seven years should further strengthen the economy with its low unemployment, high foreign reserves and sufficient baht liquidity. The plan is not a populist policy, as its benefits will last far into the future to encourage private investment, on top of the increase in the minimum wage, which has already stoked domestic spending.
"We're here to strengthen confidence among investors, not to borrow," he said. "At all the roadshows, including those in New York, Boston and London, we insist that we have enough money to finance our investment.
"They should not be upset that we don't borrow from them. Our foreign borrowing will continue, but at a level that will maintain our presence in the global financial market," said Kittiratt, who is also a deputy prime minister.
He also urged the Thai public and the opposition to help the government implement the investment plan. They should keep their doubts to themselves for now and help install a system against corruption.
Yingluck also stressed the need for a reduction of fossil fuel consumption and the promotion of alternative energy such as ethanol made from farm products, which will reduce pollution and boost domestic economic value, he said.
Udom Wongviwatchai, secretary-general of the Board of Investment, said Swedish and Belgian investors showed interest in investing in food and alternative energy, thanks to Thailand's ample agricultural resources. Both countries also have expertise in alternative-energy technology.
On business match-making, some of the 50 companies on the trip have made some progress, |he said.