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Government unveils 600 billion baht EEC projects

The Thaiger & The Nation



Government unveils 600 billion baht EEC projects | The Thaiger
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By Wichit Chaitrong

As the Thai PM readies for the Europe trip from June 25, ministers are assuring diplomats of project and political continuity after next February’s proposed poll.

In what is seen as a economic showcase, before the PM’s high-profile trip to Europe later this month, the government says it is accelerating six key investment projects worth 600 billion baht in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

Despite upcoming political changes after the next election, key ministers told diplomats from 56 countries that they expected the next cabinet to continue the projects.

“There are about six to eight projects for which bidding would be held by the end of this year,” Kobsak Pootrakool, minister attached to the Prime Minister’s Office, told the diplomats during a briefing session at the Foreign Ministry.

Thai ministers and senior officials briefed the envoys about the progress of investment projects in the EEC after the legislation came into effect last month.

Government unveils 600 billion baht EEC projects | News by The Thaiger

The government is expected to submit the names of the bid winners for Cabinet approval in December or January next year, paving the way for construction work to begin, Kobsak said.

“I have talked with Pheu Thai and Democrat parties and they all agree to continue the EEC. Moreover, investors are also interested in it,” he said of the two major parties who are the frontrunners to form the next government.

Kobsak showed the envoys the timeline for six potential projects – high-speed railway, extension of two deep seaports, U-tapao airport, MRO center, and digital park – with an estimated total investment of 608 billion baht.

They will be financed by public-private partnership (PPP). The EEC legislation would ensure the projects get off the ground within only eight months instead of 40 months that was previously stated, he added. Senior officials from relevant agencies also shared details of eight infrastructure projects, most of which are at the feasibility study stage.

Kanit Sangsuphan, secretary-general of the EEC Office, said that key projects could be accelerated as the government had done a lot of preparatory work in the past two years.

“We have succeeded in launching the first international bids for the high-speed rail,” he said, referring to completing the terms of reference (TOR) a few days ago. It has cleared the path for other projects, he said. To draw more investors, the prime minister would lead a road show in the IK and France later this month, Industry Minister Utama Savanayana said.

Government unveils 600 billion baht EEC projects | News by The ThaigerKanit Sangsuphan, secretary-general of the EEC Office, meets with officials from Thai Airways International

Prayut is scheduled to make a high-profile visit to the two countries from June 20-25 after the European Union softened its stance on Thailand’s military-backed government, with the resumption of political contacts at all levels.

Economic tzar Somkid Jatusripitak will accompany the PM on the trip to woo potential investors for the EEC and for the maintenance, repairs and overhaul hub at U-tapao.

Thai Airways International and Airbus are expected to ink an agreement when Prayut’s delegation is in France. Utama projected investments in the EEC over the next five years would reach $43 billion (1.3 trillion baht).

The EEC is not an isolated project but an integral part of Thailand 4.0, which is aimed at driving innovation, he said. The government has given generous incentives to investors who invest in the EEC zone, which covers Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao provinces. Duajai Asawachintachit, secretary-general of the Board of Investment (BOI), said investors have to invest in designated areas in order to get top-up incentives. They also have to invest in selected industries or so-called S-curve industries such as next-generation automotives, smart electronics, robotics and the digital economy.

Investors could get a tax holiday of up to 13 years compared with the BOI’s basic package incentive for investment outside EEC, where investors get a tax holiday ranging between five and 10 years, she said.

Eligible investors could rent land for up to 99 years, or enter into a 50-year contract renewable for another 49 years. Foreign ownership will be as per Thai law and depend on the type of business. If the company needs to own land, it must have local partners who hold a majority stake – 51 per cent and up.

In some cases, foreign ownership could be 75 per cent or 100 per cent, according to Kobsak. Investors from Japan, Europe, the United States, South Korea and China have shown greater interest in investment opportunities in the EEC. During the first quarter of this year, applications worth more than Bt200 billion were received for BOI incentives of which 80 per cent were for the EEC, added Duajai.

Government unveils 600 billion baht EEC projects | News by The Thaiger

STORY: The Nation

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says

Caitlin Ashworth



Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says | The Thaiger

The 2 year old Burmese child, who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar, according to a report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department.

The department says they suspect the child was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya and quit their jobs last month. The department says the toddler probably contracted the virus around September 4 to September 10 while the family was travelling.

The family crossed natural, unofficial passageways into Myanmar. The news website Xinhua says it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

Those in Thailand who came in close contact with the family tested negative for the virus. 146 people who worked with the family at Ayutthaya migrant worker camps all tested negative for Covid-19. Those in close contact with the family in the Nakhon Ratchasima province, where the parents worked prior to Ayutthaya, tested negative as well. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

Health officials are still investigating 2 apparent local transmissions of Covid-19. Earlier this month, a Bangkok DJ tested positive for Covid-19, breaking Thailand’s 100 day streak without a local transmission. The DJ tested positive for G strain of the virus, a more infectious strain that is typically found in imported cases detected during state quarantine rather than local transmissions. Health officials do not know where the DJ contracted the virus.

A Uzbek football player for the Buriram United team recently tested positive for Covid-19. He was asymptomatic and tested negative for the virus multiple times during quarantine after he arrived to Thailand. Although it seems like a local transmission, some health officials speculate the virus has a longer incubation period than 14 days.


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Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020

The Thaiger



Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020 | The Thaiger

Daily video news about Thailand with Tim Newton

Get a visa or go to jail.

Thai Immigration Tourists, and anyone else with a lapsed visa, ha ve only 5 days to renew their visa or they could get arrested. The current visa amnesty ends on September 26 and there isn’t going to be another sudden announcement for another grace period, according to immigration officials. Those who overstay will face arrest and be deported back to their home countries. Immigration officials estimate there are more than 150,000 foreign nationals who need to have their tourist visas renewed. Immigration officials said today that people without a valid visa after September 26 could face jail.

“Overstaying the tourist visa is punishable by both a jail term and fine under the Immigration Act.”

Some foreigners who arrived on tourist visas earlier in the year have been in Thailand since late March when the Thai borders closed and many international flights were cancelled due to the world coronavirus pandemic. The visa amnesty was renewed twice since many people were unable to their home countries, but now the amnesty is coming to an end this Saturday.

There were hopes that the end of the visa amnesty could co-incide with the introduction of the new Special Tourist Visa so that those either unable to leave, due to lack of flights or problems returning to their home countries, could ‘roll over’ onto the new 90 day visas. But that has not been announced at this stage and remains just wishful thinking. The best thing you can do, if you don’t currently have a valid visa to stay in Thailand, is urgently contact your embassy, make an appointment online at your nearest Immigration office, or speak to a professional visa agent. But, be warned, there are plenty of scammers posting official looking urgent posts in social media offering to issue you with a visa so you can stay in Thailand. Do your homework before spending money with any visa agent.

Weekend protest rallies draw 30,000 people but no formal response

Protesters gathered from early Saturday morning at the Thammasat Tha Prachan campus. Although officially denied permission to hold their protest on the Campus grounds, the demonstrators stormed the campus’s gates, without resistance from onlooking police or security officials. By the afternoon the crowd had reached some 30,000 people, less than the 50,000 expected but a lot more than the 15,000 expected by government officials in the lead up to the Saturday rally. Largely peaceful the protesters sat in the wet season drizzle to listen to speeches and performances before marching together to the adjacent royal parade grounds of Sanam Luang. Here the protest continued under the watchful eye of police, all unarmed, who barricaded off sensitive areas of the historic parade grounds and access to the Grand Palace.

The protest continued into the night and punctuated the themes of political freedom, new Democratic elections, the dissolution of the Thai parliament and, controversially, reforms to the country’s revered monarchy. On Sunday morning there was a symbolic placement of a brass plaque to commemorate the event, seen as a replacement to a similar plaque that commemorated the Siam Revolution in 1932 that mysteriously vanished in 2017. The protesters then marched to the Privy Council to officially hand over a copy of their 10 point manifesto.

Meanwhile, 45,000 books – a collection of speeches and poems by some of the protest leaders – were seized in a nearby Bangkok house. The books were to be handed out to protesters. 5 people were arrested at the time.

Alcohol banned at national parks after complaints of trash and drunk tourists Alcohol is now banned at national parks after tourists allegedly got drunk at a waterfall and others left a load of trash by their campsite. Just last week, trash left at a campsite at Khao Yai National Park was boxed up in a parcel and sent back to the campers. Other tourists were allegedly drunk and making a lot of noise at the Namtok Samlan National Park, Varawut says. He says both groups of tourists face charges for their actions.

• Alcohol is banned at national parks for the time being

• Loud noise is not allowed after 9pm and noise must be stopped at 10pm

• When renting a tent, tourists must provide identification, address and phone number

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MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest

Caitlin Ashworth



MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

A member of parliament filed a complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the weekend’s pro-democracy protest where activists demanded reform of the Thai Monarchy. He’s also putting together a legal team aimed at dissolving the members’ 3 opposition parties.

Palang Pracharat MP Sira Jenjakha says he has a photo of the 3 members raising their hands in a 3 finger salute, a symbol of resistance against the military run government. He says the protest was illegal, and the location, the Royal Field next to the Grand Palace, is off limits to unauthorised people.

He filed the complaint with the Chanasongkhram police against Mongkolkit Suksintharanont, of the Thai Civilized Party, Peerawit Ruangluedolapark, of the Thai Rak Thai Party and Nattha Boonchai-insawat of the Kao Klai Party.

A legal team assigned by Sira will collect evidence and file a petition with the Constitutional Court calling on the dissolution of the 3 opposition parties: Thai Civilized Party, Thai Rak Thai Party and Kao Klai Party.

He says he also plans to ask the House Speaker to investigate the 3 members to determine if they breached the parliament’s ethical conduct.


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