Infrastructure steering committee identifies four priorities

Economy April 25, 2016 01:00


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BANGKOK BANK president Chartsiri Sophonpanich, private-sector head of the Pracha Rath steering committee on attracting investment and developing the country’s infrastructure, says the panel will highlight four agendas to lure foreign investment and streng

Chartsiri is one of 12 business leaders who are closely working with the government under the Pracha Rath project to move the country towards being a value-based economy, nicknamed “Thailand 4.0”.
Chartsiri said the four agendas were enhancing competitiveness; a new platform for public-private partnerships (PPP); increased access to infrastructure; and attracting investment.
On the first agenda, his committee is working with the Pracha Rath steering committee on innovation and productivity headed by Kan Trakulhoon to accommodate research and development.
Chartsiri said his committee was keen on building “science cities” to host advanced industries in the future.
These science cities could be hubs for R&D, which will upgrade industry and accommodate the development of the bio-economy, a goal of the Pracha Rath steering committee on pushing new high-growth innovative industries.
The private sector would be responsible for the construction costs of the science cities, he said, adding that such facilities should be set up in industrial estates because of their complete utilities. The private sector will also use its networks to attract investors interested in R&D to serve the automotive, electronics, aviation, robotics and biotechnology sectors, he said.
The state should have incentives to support the private sector, especially the establishment of a one-stop service for investors and a “science-city fast track” programme, he said.
On the second agenda, the private sector agrees that PPP is a solution for infrastructure investment because each development requires a large budget, and the government has to maintain fiscal discipline. 
For the period 2015-19, the government has announced 66 infrastructure projects with a total investment cost of Bt1.58 trillion.
According to Chartsiri, the private sector has collaborated with the government on four key areas for a new PPP platform. 
First, the private sector will help lay out the conditions to encourage both local and foreign investors.
Second, a PPP should share risk appropriately for cost efficiency. For example, private companies will take on the risks of investment and management, while the government should look after a regulatory regime that supports ease of doing business.
Third, the committee believes the government should set up a Project Management Office to oversee the schedules of project development and the cost of projects.
Finally, the areas surrounding infrastructure projects should be developed as smart cities. He suggested that Laem Chabang in Chon Buri province and Chiang Rak Noi in Ayutthaya province could become ‘smart cities’.
According to the third agenda, the committee acknowledges that Baan Pracha Rath is a good example of helping people to access infrastructure, and this complies with the objective of reducing costs and social inequality.
“We hope the government will undertake a second phase of Baan Pracha Rath because low-income people want to own homes, and this programme will help around 2.7 million do so. The government should set aside sufficient credit for borrowers under Baan Pracha Rath, while developers [under the programme] should receive tax incentives,” Chartsiri said.
On the fourth agenda, the private sector will arrange events where foreign investors can meet authorities, he said.