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Thailand plans 1.62t baht public-private partnership projects

[BANGKOK] Thailand plans a five-year public-private partnership investment plan worth 1.62 trillion baht (S$66.18 billion) to mainly improve infrastructure and lower logistics costs, a senior finance ministry official said on Wednesday.

The strategic plan for 2017-2021 will make investors confident such projects will continue over the next four to five years, Ekniti Nitithanprapas, director general of the State Enterprise Policy Office, told reporters.

Of the total budget, 94 per cent will be for transport infrastructure investment and the rest for education and public health, as the military government ramps up investment to lift growth in South-east Asia's second-largest economy, which still lags its peers.

"When these projects are signed, there will be money coming out steadily for 4-5 years," Mr Ekniti said.

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Two years ago, the government approved 1.4 trillion baht for 20 big-ticket infrastructure projects to spur domestic activity, but it has spent little on that, as the projects have been slow getting off the ground.

However, Krisada Chinavicharana, director general of the Fiscal Policy Office, said disbursement had been on track to meet the 2017 fiscal year's targets, with 83 per cent of total expenditure spent between Oct 1 and Aug 25.

About 63 per cent of the investment budget alone had been taken during the period, he added.

He said that higher government spending and stronger exports would help the economy grow faster than the ministry's forecast of 3.6 per cent this year. The ministry next reviews that forecast in late October.

The economy expanded 3.2 per cent last year.