By ANAPAT DEECHUAY
THE GOVERNMENT is upbeat about a loan offered by Beijing for the joint Thai-Chinese railway project but hopes to get the interest rate below 2 per cent per annum.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday said after a Cabinet meeting that the terms of the loan offered by the Chinese government to finance the railway project were still under negotiation. Beijing has offered an interest rate of 2.5 per cent, but the Thai government has asked that the rate be lowered.
“We will have to see if it can be cut to less than 2 per cent. If not, we will consider borrowing just some of the total amount offered to finance only the jobs that we [China and Thailand] jointly invest in. Other funding will be sought from other sources offering a cheaper rate,” he said.
The two governments are negotiating the details of the construction for two dual-track routes using the 1.435-metre European-standard gauge carrying trains running a maximum of 180kmph. The first route is from Nong Khai to Map Ta Phut vai Kaeng Khoi and the other from Bangkok to Kang Khoi. The project with a total length of 867 kilometres is estimated to cost about Bt400 billion.
“This is what the government will have to undergo for it, as there are many committees working out on the projects with deliberately thinking,” said he.
Besides seeking financing, Prayut said there would be reports on environmental impact assessment and public hearings before commencing the construction, scheduled for September.
“In fact, I wish to start the construction before that schedule, but there has not yet been an agreement on the lending rate,” he said. It will have an equal of mutual benefits even though we [Thailand and China] are an alliance,” said Prayut.