THE CABINET yesterday approved a budget of Bt631 billion to develop five infrastructure projects on the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), and seven water management projects.
Bt600 billion will be invested in developing five infrastructure projects in the EEC while Bt31.47 |billion has been allocated for |developing the country’s water management system, Government Spokesman Phuttipong Punnakan said after the Cabinet meeting yesterday.
Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana revealed that the Cabinet at its meeting in Chiang Rai yesterday had approved the Office of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Policy Committee to move ahead with selecting potential investors to invest in five EEC mega-infrastructure projects worth a total of Bt600 billion. They include the planned high-speed train project linking Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, and U-tapao airports, for which the bid documents are already available.
The other four, which are due to sell document bids, are the U-tapao aviation maintenance and repair centre, the aerotropolis project, the phase 3 of Lam Chabang deep sea port, and phase 3 of the Map Ta Phut industrial zone project.
Approvals were granted to sell bid documents for the four projects next month.
All the projects are estimated to bring economic benefits to the country to the tune of at least Bt800 billion, he said.
Phuttipong added that the Cabinet had also approved a budget of Bt31.47 billion to develop the country’s water management projects, under the plan agreed by |the National Water Resource Committee. The investments will be made until 2024, beginning in 2019. He added that the Cabinet had also accepted the upper North 2 provincial cluster’s proposed strategic direction for its economic and social development, highlighting tourism and services.
The upper North 2 provincial cluster consists of Chiang Rai, Phayao, Phrae and Nan provinces.
Phuttipong said after the cluster meeting yesterday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had accepted the the strategic development direction on seven issues, including area, tourism, trade and investment, infrastructure, agriculture, improvement of quality of life, and natural resources and environment.
Prayut said the government paid attention to two parts: functions and development, while tourism is the strength of the North, according to Phutthipong
Tourism and service development have been defined as the strategy for the North, which stands as the trade gateway with the Lanna cultural heritage and safe agricultural products.
Several areas in the cluster received a green light for development, from Chiang Rai’s famous Tham Luang cave as a tourist destination to Phayao Lake.
Prayut assigned the Industry Ministry and related agencies to drive the cluster’s food and processed agricultural products for higher value-addition, while accelerating development of safe and organic agriculture.
Both land and rail transport will be developed to connect with Thailand’s neighbouring countries and within the cluster provinces with transit-oriented development. The cluster will also be promoted as healthy ageing smart cities with research and development of herbs for commercial purposes.
Flood gates and pumping stations will be constructed in the cluster provinces which are home to Thailand’s and the North’s major water sources, to boost water management efficiency.
“The prime minister assigned the deputy prime minister and ministers responsible for the provincial cluster to monitor the operating results from this meeting, while asking provincial governors and local private enterprises to raise awareness of government projects among the people,” Phutthipong said.
Wirote Jirattigalachote, chairman of a committee for economic development in the North at the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the provincial cluster had sought support for key projects such as development of tourism at Wiang Nong Lom in Chiang Rai.
“We propose that the next mobile Cabinet meeting be held in Chiang Mai, which is in the upper North 2 provincial cluster,” he said.