Transport gets high priority

Economy August 25, 2014 01:00

By Business Reporters
The Nation

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Budget focus on sustainable development to prepare for AEC

The Transport Ministry has been allocated a budget of Bt112.38 billion for fiscal 2015, up 11.7 per cent from the previous fiscal year, making it the second-biggest spender among ministries with economic impact, leading the way to connectivity with Asean. 
Seven ministries relevant to the economy were allocated a combined Bt327 billion, accounting for 13 per cent of the total Bt2.57-trillion fiscal 2015 budget, which is now under consideration of the budget-vetting committee after being passed by the National Legislative Assembly in the first reading last week. The bill’s second reading is expected in the middle of next month, followed by the third reading prior to implementation by October 1. 
The ministry’s budget focuses on development of sustainable transport in a bid to provide sufficient transport services with efficiency and fairness. Most of the budget – 90 per cent – will be allocated to the Highways Department and Rural Roads Department. The Highways Department will be allocated about Bt61 billion for fiscal 2015, up from Bt52 billion in the previous fiscal year, in a bid to improve the transport logistics system. Apart from the main highways network investment of Bt9 billion, the highway projects linking regions in the country costing Bt2.5 billion and projects worth Bt1.2 billion to link up with other countries were included.
The Rural Roads Department’s Bt40-billion budget would focus on carrying out development of the road network by working on the missing links. Of that, Bt544 million was set aside for rural road development for tourism.
In terms of strategic allocation, about Bt50 billion of Bt112 billion has been set aside for transport infrastructure development in response to future development. 
Management and development of IT and electronic services in transport and logistics has been allocated Bt36 million, to prepare for the Asean Economic Community.
The Tourism and Sports Ministry has been allocated a budget of Bt8 billion for fiscal 2015, which will be divided among several key organisations under the ministry: the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Sport Authority of Thailand, and the ministry itself.
It is speculated that the tourism budget is not higher because there has been no crisis recently such as airport closure, tsunami, epidemics or major floods as in the past.
An economic research centre, TMB Analytics, said tourism had passed the worst point and was ready to rebound next month, continuing to flourish through the coming high season, running from October through April.
However, the ministry could ask for more money if a crisis does occur. It regularly receives additional budgets to revive the sector through activities and events.
The Energy Ministry’s budget has been reduced slightly from Bt2.06 billion to Bt1.99 billion this fiscal year. Under the main goal to ensure sustainability and supply security, the main missions range from laying down energy plans to collaboration with other countries in energy affairs.
Notably, the budget plan includes specific targets on energy intensity, energy conservation, renewable energy and others that have to be improved in each of the next five years. For example, the country’s energy elasticity factor is targeted to be improved from 0.87 of gross domestic product in fiscal 2014 to 0.84 in 2016, 0.79 in 2017, and 0.72 in 2018. The share of renewable energy will increase from 11.6 per cent of total usage in fiscal 2014 to 11.86 per cent in 2015, 12.81 per cent in 2016, 14.63 per cent in 2017, and 17.07 per cent in 2018.
The Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency has received its biggest budget of Bt897.7 million, followed by the Permanent Secretary’s Office with Bt498.5 million, the Department of Energy Business with Bt255.3 million, the Department of Mineral Fuels with Bt229.2 million, the Energy Policy and Planning Office with Bt97.3 million, and the Energy Fund Administration Institute with Bt19 million.
The Industry Ministry was allocated a budget of around Bt5.928 billion, compared with the 2014 budget of Bt6.581 billion. Of the total budget, around Bt1.306 billion will be spent on boosting industrial competitiveness.
The Information and Communications Technology Ministry was allocated a budget of Bt5.723 billion for fiscal 2015. Its main roles are to manage and develop ICT infrastructure and promote ICT use in many areas. 
The Commerce Ministry was allocated a budget of Bt7.341 billion for fiscal 2015 against Bt9.171 billion in 2014. The budget covers the seven agencies and two organisations under the ministry’s control.
Budgets of key economic ministries
Ministry 2015 2014 change (%)
Transport Bt112.4 bn Bt100.6 bn +11.7
Finance Bt186.34 bn Bt228.8 bn -18.60
Tourism and Sports Bt8.3 bn Bt13.8 bn -39.85
ICT Bt5.72 bn Bt9.45 bn -39.47
Energy Bt1.99 bn Bt2.06 bn -3.39
Commerce Bt7.34 bn Bt9.17 bn -19.95
Industry Bt5.93 bn Bt6.58 bn -9.87
Source: PM’s Office