Democrats offer alternative to govt Bt2-tn infrastructure plan

national September 24, 2013 00:00

By Pimnara Pradubwit
The Nation

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THE OPPOSITION Democrat Party launched a blueprint for investing in and reforming Thailand yesterday, offering a plan to rival the government's Bt2-trillion proposed infrastructure-development projects.

The plan, called “The future that [we] can choose, a strong 2020 Thailand”, was revealed after a three-hour meeting. 

Democrat Party leader and former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, his deputy and former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij, as well as former deputy Bangkok governor Samart Ratcha-polsitte, were at the press conference.
The plan is a response to the government’s proposed Bt2-trillion in projects to develop Thailand’s transportation infrastructure. Abhisit said his party wanted to offer a choice for the future. It criticised the government’s Bt2-trillion plan for the next seven years as being based on a belief that the Kingdom’s road and rail system was inadequate.
Abhisit argued that Thailand could be strong if its people were strong. He called on the government to be transparent about its proposed loans and assure the public there would be enough money for them.
The Democrat plan proposes Bt1.2 trillion for transportation infrastructure, Bt400 billion investments in education, research and development, Bt200 billion for an irrigation system and Bt200 billion for public health.
Abhisit proposed Bt150 billion for the creation of science schools and research universities, and Bt50 billion for vocational colleges.
To create a new breed of teachers and a Teaching Excellence Centre, a Bt110 billion budget was proposed by the opposition party. Then there would be Bt90 billion for a basic educational apparatus.
In public health, the Democrats proposed the development of 12,000 hospitals nationwide with a budget of Bt100 billion. Another Bt100 billion would be allotted for the training of medical personnel.
For irrigation, the party proposed that Bt200 billion be spent to irrigate 75 million rai of land nationwide. 
Abhisit said these proposals would be more beneficial than the Bt2-trillion projects proposed by the Yingluck Shinawatra administration. They had greater fiscal discipline, more transparency, and were more responsive to the needs of national development.
The opposition leader said he hoped the government would take the Democrats’ rival proposal into consideration. If the government turned down the proposals, said Abhisit, then the opposition was ready to carry out the plan if it was re-elected to run the country.
When asked by reporters why the Democrat Party didn’t carry out these plans when it was in power, Abhisit said the plan was disrupted when power changed hands.