Thai govt to go ahead with bridging Andaman-Gulf coasts to boost southern economy
Newly appointed Industry Minister Pimpattra Wichaikul reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC)’s Land Bridge Project, saying all steps will be taken to expedite the initiative.
She was speaking to the press on Saturday after returning from a two-day trip to Chumphon.
Pimpattra explained that the project aims to connect the coasts of the Andaman Sea on the West and the Gulf of Thailand, particularly the provinces of Chumphon and Ranong.
The Land Bridge project was initially launched by former premier General Prayut Chan-o-cha, who recognised its potential to stimulate the economy and boost connectivity in the South.
In response to concerns raised by the private industry, including Chumphon’s chambers of industry, commerce and agriculture, the industry minister said she has taken action to address potential delays in the project.
The minister has also instructed the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) to expedite the study of guidelines for establishing industrial estates in areas that will complement the SEC in four provinces, namely Chumphon, Ranong, Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat.
The project’s focus will revolve around key industries like agriculture and food, biotechnology and health and wellness tourism.
In a bid to uplift provinces on the coast of the Gulf in the South, like Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Surat Thani and Songkhla, the Industry Ministry is keen to:
• Improve regulations related to mining and forestry, especially since some hilly forested areas are abundant in minerals
• Add value to regional agricultural products
• Address challenges and boost the value of oil palm and rubber industries, with special attention to mitigating drought-related issues affecting raw material quality
The government is also placing a strong emphasis on nurturing the capabilities of entrepreneurs to enhance their competitiveness. This will cover the development of smart agricultural industry entrepreneurs across all provinces, the minister said.
Recognising the legal hurdles faced by the private sector, the government will work to expedite solutions to several problems, she said. This includes streamlining regulations, facilitating access to funding and prioritising environmentally friendly production processes. Public participation will also be encouraged to improve the well-being of the population, while the professional skills of entrepreneurs will be enhanced through the creation of smart agricultural industry entrepreneurs, Pimpattra added.