By SOMLUCK SRIMALEE
To do so, it is considering renegotiating the initial-phase contract to make construction of the 138-kilometre two-lane road link between Thailand and Myanmar the responsibility of the two governments, instead of the private consortium that won the project bid in 2015.
The eighth meeting of the committee was held at the Thai Transport Ministry yesterday, led by Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith and Myanmar Commerce Minister Dr Than Myint. The two parties agree to speed up the DSEZ programme after investments in the project were delayed last year during the change of government in Myanmar, Arkhom told a news conference after the meeting.
He said the JCC had agreed to set up three committees to manage the project.
The Joint High Level Committee will oversee the overall project and be led by Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and a Myanmar deputy PM.
The Joint Coordination Committee, led by Arkhom and Than Myint, will oversee the project details.
Third, the DSEZ Management Committee will be a working group to operate the project.
The two sides also agreed to expedite the construction of the 138km two-lane road linking the DSEZ to the Thailand-Myanmar border by separating it from the initial phase of the overall project won in August 2015 by Italian-Thai Development (ITD) and its partner Rojana Industrial Park. The road would instead be developed by the Myanmar government with financial support from the Thai government, which would provide a 30-year soft loan charging 0.1-per-cent annual interest, if and when Myanmar required it.
It would also have to negotiate with the private companies that won the initial contract on revising the agreement. The Thai Cabinet earlier approved providing up Bt4.5 billion to support the development of the DSEZ if the Myanmar government needed it, Arkhom said.
Under the new plan, the JCC has set up two joint Thai-Myanmar working groups.
The first working group is to oversee the road project. The responsible agencies on the Thai side are the Department of Highways and the Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperating Agency, and on Myanmar side the Department of Road Construction and either the Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank or an appropriate department under the Ministry of Planning and Finance.
The second group will oversee development of the initial phase of the DSEZ. The responsible agencies on the Thai side are the National Economic and Social Development Board and the Fiscal Policy Office, and on the Myanmar side the Ministry of Planning and Finance and the Ministry of Commerce.
The two groups are to present their final plans to the ninth Myanmar-Thailand JCC meeting in October in Nay Pyi Daw.
Arkhom said it was still possible that ITD would be retained to construct the two-lane road, “depending on the study and negotiating process”.
He said the JCC would this month have an “unofficial” meeting with Japan on its role in the development of the DSEZ. This discussion will be about Japan’s potential partnership with Thailand and Myanmar in the second phase of the project. It is hoped that a trilateral partnership will speed up the project.
Than Myint said yesterday that Myanmar had continued to develop the DSEZ project to drive the country’s economic growth, and thanked Thailand’s government for its support in this project.
“We need to start the investment and construction of this project immediately when the plan is finalised,” he said.
In early June, ITD president Premchai Karnasuta said the company was ready to invest an initial Bt37 billion in the DSEZ project but was waiting for the Myanmar government to sign a procurement contract.