No confidence debate – Day 2. Transport minister asked to explain 5.7 trillion baht budget.

Opposition MPs have, so far, failed to lay a knockout punch on the Thai PM or any of his ministers, at this stage of the four-day censure debate. Today the opposition has been targeting Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob over one of Thailand’s mega projects – the MR Map.

The MR Map is a list of mega projects around the country, mostly involving upgraded rail and highway networks, as well as the controversial land bridge linking Ranong and Chumpon.

(The land bridge has become the preferred version of a cross-peninsula link for shipping containers, whereby the west-east ships offload the containers in Ranong, they are shipped overland on the land bridge roads, then reloaded onto ships at a port in Chumpon, to contuse their journey, thus cutting out the longer route along the Malacca Strait and via Singapore. Originally it was going to be a full canal, in the style of the Panama Canal. Read more HERE)

But the 5.7 trillion baht project has come under fire from Move Forward MP Surachet Praweenwongwut, who says the projected costs amount to approx. 80,000 for every Thai citizen.

“The belief that the “MR-Map” projects will lead to the creation of new cities will not be realised. It will connect many existing towns and will not lead to the creation of new ones.”

“It is not worth the investment and duplicates other similar infrastructure projects.

“The budget would be better spent on improving town planning, the public transport, water and electricity systems in existing towns and provinces.

“The 5.7 trillion baht includes the budgets from all Thai ministries combined for 12 years and the budget of the Agriculture Ministry for 74 years.”

In response, the Transport Minister defended the project, insisting that it will boost the Thai economy rather than waste money.

“The mega project will be a joint investment between the government and the private sector, including foreign investors, and that it is not necessary for all the projects to be implemented simultaneously.

“The mega project will not be a waste of taxpayers’ money, but it will be a boon for the Thai economy and the Thai people.

Today is the second day of the four-day censure debates that have come about from the fourth no-confidence motion brought by the opposition parties against the prime minister and his ministers.

The vote will be held on Saturday afternoon but, at this stage, the position parties haven’t been able to land any significant damage on the 17-party coalition government.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Tim Newton

Tim joined The Thaiger as one of its first employees in 2018 as an English news writer/editor and then began to present The Thaiger's Daily news show in 2020, Thailand News Today (or TNT for short). He has lived in Thailand since 2011, having relocated from Australia.