THAILAND’S political parties have vowed to continue development of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), while Democrat Party and Pheu Thai Party will review the high-speed railway project.
Uttama Savanayana, leader of Phalang Pracharath Party, has pledged to continue the EEC policy and redistribute wealth, which is mainly centralised in Bangkok, to the regions.
The EEC, with some areas run by the current government, is to be extended and prepared for investments by the targeted industries.
It will also be extended to other regions in the concept of E-san 4.0 (Northeast), Lanna 4.0 (North) and Dam Kwan 4.0 (South).
The EEC is part of the Prayut Chan-o-cha-led government’s policies to boost Thailand’s competitiveness and help the country exits the middle-income gap in 2026 with an estimated per capital income of US$12,540 (Bt400,000) per year.
Korn Chatikavanj, deputy leader of the Democrat Party, said his party reserves the right to review the EEC plan, particularly its mega infrastructure investment.
In principle, the investment is necessary, he said, but if the Democrat Party is in power, it will review mega investments such as the high-speed railway project linking the country’s three main airports.
It will also negotiate with the bid winner on several issues, including the proposed profit guarantee of 6 per cent per year, he said.
“This project should not have a profit guarantee and we hope that the government will not rush for contract signing with the private enterprise,” he said.
As well, the Democrats will not confine the EEC to only three provinces. Special economic zones in border areas will also be developed.
Based on the continued expansion of border trade, an upgrade in several industries including processing and community products, will help increase income and redistribute wealth to other areas, going beyond Bangkok and its vicinities and the three eastern provinces, Korn said.
Chadchart Sittipunt, a leading member of Pheu Thai, said the party will continue the EEC development but needs to look at details of each project and the demand for the 12 targeted industries, and might extend the project to nearly all potential provinces for economic redistribution.
“Pheu Thai Party will certainly continue this project (EEC), like the Eastern Seaboard.
“We have to continue but will consider which project needs improvement or adjustment in details. For example, the high-speed rail project still lacks connectivity with other areas.
“We have to look at the U-Tapao Airport project in terms of the number of passengers,” he said.
Prachya Samalapa of the Thai Chamber of Commerce in the East, said the mega projects might remain unchanged in the initial period of the new government. If change is needed, it is expected to be in line with the EEC law, he said.
“Foreign investors see Thailand as an attractive investment destination. Therefore, although some projects may be delayed, they are still on the roadmap and the EEC infrastructure will benefit the country’s economy.
“Investors also gain confidence as the project moves ahead. And certainly, businessmen will come to invest but are waiting for the election result and the new government’s policy,” he said.
Somnuck Jongmeewasin, a member of EEC Watch, is urging that the political party that forms the new government reviews the EEC policy, as it has not passed a strategic environmental assessment (SEA).