By SOMLUCK SRIMALEE
THE FINANCE Ministry is more confident that the infrastructure projects worth Bt130 billion will boost the economy during the rest of this year after meeting with the economic and investment steering committee yesterday.
Meanwhile, the ministry is revising the draft bill for the land and building tax after it was sent back by the Cabinet last week. The main idea of the proposed bill is to collect tax from the second home, not the first one. However, more details will wait until the Cabinet approves the draft bill, which might be next month, Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said yesterday.
The ministry has no plan to extend the temporary measure that cuts the mortgage and transfer fee for the property industry. It expires at the end of this month.
The property market has already recovered and there is also the Baan Pracha Rath scheme to serve demand for residences in the lower-income market, he said.
“According to the strong demand for Baan Pracha Rath, state-owned banks such as the Government Housing Bank, Krungthai Bank and the Government Savings Bank have asked the Finance Ministry to expand the loans for Baan Pracha Rath if they need it and it does not affect their financial results,” he said.
The committee confirmed that of the 20 infrastructure projects, eight worth Bt56 billion were on time and 12 would be two to three months behind schedule.
Of the Bt80 billion budgeted for the water-management system, Bt60 billion is already used up. The remaining Bt20 billion will be spent during the rest of this year. The next Bt50 billion will be invested in a highway and a motorway.
“The government’s investment is part of maintaining the country’s economic growth at over 3 per cent this year,” Apisak said.
The steering committee has told all parties to spend their budgets to meet the target of Bt130 billion this year because if the investment is lower than that estimate, it will hold back the country’s economic growth.
Not only will the investment by the government boost the economy, so will investment by the private sector.
According to a report from the Board of Investment, new applications in the first quarter of this year were ahead by 300 per cent from same quarter of last year.
Imports of machinery and raw materials to produce export products also increased in the first quarter. This is a sign that the private sector has confidence in the economy.
Low interest rates will also be a factor boosting private-sector investment during the rest of this year, Apisak said.