April 12, 2017 01:00 By WICHIT CHAITRONG, SOMLUCK SRIMALEE THE NATION
THE CABINET yesterday approved in principle the State Council’s draft bill for the Eastern Economic Corridor development project but could not agree on the structure of the EEC’s administration, said Kobsak Pootrakool, vice minister for the PM’s Office Minister.
Ministers want to have a clear plan on how concerned ministries co-ordinate their responsibilities in order make the EEC administrative office lean and effective, said Kobsak.
“The EEC administrative office should be lean but at the same time should be able to provide a one-stop service for investors. Therefore, it requires close co-operation with other state agencies,” said Kobsak.
Kobsak said it may take about a month or two before the State Council could re-send the draft bill to the Cabinet for approval. The Cabinet in November last year approved the first draft of the bill and forwarded it to the State Council.
If the Cabinet approves the bill in the next few months, it would then be forward to the National Legislative Assembly(NLA), Kobsak said.
Other key issues such as a package of investment incentives had already been resolved, he said. Incentives include a sharp cut in personal income tax to 17 per cent for investors in the EEC, land leases of up to 50 years and a free flow of foreign currencies in the region covering Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao provinces.
The EEC has drawn new foreign investors that have formed joint venture projects with Thai counterparts.
As part of this trend, Energy Absolute yesterday signed an agreement with China-based Shenzhen Growatt New Energy Technology and Taiwan-based Amita Technologies to set up battery plant for the production of lithium-ion batteries, with a focus on the EEC.
The venture will form part of Thailand’s efforts to promote sustainable energy for long-term industrial growth, Absolute Energy’s chief executive officer Somphote Ahunai said at a press conference announcing the deal.
In another positive sign, the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) signed an agreement with Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand for an industrial estate that will support the government’s pursuit of innovative technologies for Thai industry.
FTI president Chen Namchaisiri said the project would help meet the goals of the government’s Thailand 4.0 policy for technological advancement.
The industrial estate would support the growth of sectors associated with the so-called S-curve industries, he said. Such industries focus on innovation in production and energy is part of this mix.
The country needs to boost its sustainable energy capacity and reduce a reliance on imported energy, Chen said. The collaboration between Energy Absolute, Shenzhen Growatt New Energy Technology, and Amita Technologies is a key step for developing the country’s energy storage needs, he added.
The government is seeking to upgrade Thailand’s industrial base to that of high-income nations. Under this strategy, the targeted industries cover 10 clusters.
The first five groups make up the first S-curve: next-generation automotive; smart electronics; affluence, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology and food for the future.
The second group of five industries is known as the new S-curve; these cover robotics; aviation and logistics; biofuels and biochemicals; and digital and medical hubs.