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Work to start on approval to transport bill gets nod

Nov 08. 2013
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By The Nation

The government is ready to kick off several projects once the Bt2-trillion loan bill for transportation infrastructure gains approval.
Kittiratt Na-Ranong, deputy prime minister and finance minister, said yesterday that the transportation and customs checkpoint construction projects were primed for auction. 
Blueprints have been completed for 41 customs checkpoints, while 10 are still in the planning stage, he said.
Highways will be widened from two lanes to four. Almost all routes are ready for construction without the need for an environmental impact assessment. The existing double-track railways could also be extended instantly. 
New railways, like the Chiang Mai-Chiang Khong line, are excluded. 
Under the Bt350-billion flood and water management plan, environmental impact assessments have been done for several projects with progress as scheduled. 
The political developments could have some impact on the economy, particularly on confidence. 
It seemed that an attempt at forgiveness led to no readiness for forgiveness. All parties understood that the country was not ready for this. Everyone should rethink the matter with mutual understanding and go forward for the country’s sake.
The economy should expand as targeted this year, however, the private sector and foreign investors are now keeping a watch on next year’s economic situation. 
This quarter, the first of fiscal 2014, remains an important period, which comes with overlapping budgets and government spending as a boost for the economy. 
“The previous year’s carryover budget is Bt146 billion. In the 2014 budget, planned disbursement amounts to Bt2.25 trillion. (In the first quarter of the fiscal year,) there could be state spending of nearly Bt600 billion. The economy could depend mainly on state spending and tourism,” he said.
While private investment and consumption are normal, manufactured exports could see some difficult periods with deficits for the trade account, which includes gold imports. However, if gold imports are excluded, the trade account will continue to run a slight surplus. 
Disbursement of the 2013 budget remained low or at about 60 per cent of the plan. State agencies have been asked to accelerate their spending, he added.

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