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Thai transport ministry races to spend infra funds as year-end looms

[BANGKOK] Thailand ministry of transport said on Wednesday it expected to spend 92 per cent of its 150 billion baht (S$6.09 billion) infrastructure budget for the 2017 fiscal year that ends this month.

Infrastructure spending is a key driver for Thailand's economy, but ministries have often failed to spend the funds they are allocated, particularly for big projects.

The ministry has already spent 80 per cent of the budget allocated for infrastructure and would spend a further 12 billion baht this month, Pirapol Thawornsupcharoen, deputy permanent secretary of transport, told reporters.

In 2016, the ministry spent nearly 94 per cent of its budget of 134 billion baht.

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Thailand's junta has increased funding for transport projects to boost economic growth, which is forecast to reach a four-year high of 3.5 per cent to 4.0 per cent this year. It's still behind regional peers.

Mr Pirapol said one constraint on spending had been getting contracts signed for one of the State Railway of Thailand's biggest projects - a 100 billion baht plan for five dual-track lines.