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Phuket entrepreneurs join hands to boost investment



PHUKET: Two dozen private entrepreneurs have come together to form a new company aimed at boosting investment and promoting seamless business operations in Phuket.

Named Phuket City Development Co Ltd (PKCD), the new conglomerate aims to develop the province into a functional and successful ‘Smart City’ under three ‘core values’: innovation; green infrastructure; and green mobility for sustainable development.

PKCD was registered on October 15 with 25 shareholders and a registered capital of 100 million baht. The focus of its operations lies mainly on infrastructure, smart public transport, smart city initiatives, and security and economy.

The owners are keen to “build relationships and ease connections between private and government sectors” regarding major development projects.

“First of all, we will ease the process of investment for foreigners. Those from outside Phuket or Thailand who want to invest in any project in Phuket – let’s take a bus business, for instance – have ‘no idea’ about how to deal with the government and tackle all the applicable rules and laws. Additionally, the process is very time consuming.

“These types of difficulties make investors lose interest quite quickly, which causes them to withdraw and invest elsewhere,” says shareholder Suradech Taweesaengsakulhai, co-founder of Khon Kaen City Development Co Ltd and one of the shareholders of PKCD.

“PKCD will work as the ‘middleman’ in these cases. We are a local organization and we know how the government sector works. We will help these investors with the laws and requirements. Once permission is obtained, we will open the project for investors. They will no longer have to worry about the law, and we will get more investors this way,” he adds.

The PKCD board expects to register the company on the Stock Exchange of Thailand in future if all goes well.

“We do not expect any investors to start handing us money immediately. We want to earn their trust first and to know who we are. After seeing the results, we will attract more investors for sure. If they trust what we are doing, they will automatically come to us,” says Mr Suradech.

He emphasizes that their goal is not only to create projects but to work with the government to help push through projects that are already in motion.

“We can either join the project ourselves or help to ‘expedite it’ by coordinating with the government and the developers,” he says.

At this stage, there are five plans on the agenda. The first is to help Phuket become a “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Neighborhood Development” (LEED-ND) city within 20 years.

The second is to cooperate with the OrBorJor in order to improve bus services in Phuket, including smart buses with front and back CCTV cameras, a strict schedule of departures and arrivals, and a system to keep track of the drivers.

Third: to create a mobile app to help tourists. The application will feature tourist attractions, food, accommodation, and land, marine and air maps. This app will be a cross between Grap, Wongnai, Agoda and TripAdvisor.

Fourth: to turn Phuket into a “Smart Innovation Hub” to boost creative thinking, especially among youth, and help them to generate income.

Finally, to promote Phuket as a venue for an Asian Expo that will help the island to become a Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition (MICE) center, and to promote tourism throughout the Andaman provinces.

PKCD is using Khon Kaen City Development Co Ltd, which has been in operation for many years, as a business model to follow, but with a long-term focus. At present, company representatives could not provide details as to when the first project is expected to start.

“In Phuket, the first thing that we want to do is to improve the bus system in cooperation with the OrBorJor. The exact date is not yet decided. We still plan to keep the local buses (Pho Thong) functioning, as they are a unique part of the identity of Phuket. However, we also intend to incorporate a more modernized transport system,” says Montawee Hongyok, one of the shareholders of PKCD.

Additionally, the company intends to work closely with the Software Industry Promotion Agency and other related offices to help promote their agenda.

“We are doing this for the benefit of our future generations. I don’t want to say exactly who will reap the benefits, as no one will trust me on this right now. But please wait to see the results yourselves. All the shareholders of the company are ‘Phuket people’, and we all want to come together and improve Phuket,” Mr Suradech insists.

“From an economic point of view, if the whole of Phuket improves and becomes a developed city, it will certainly help every business in Phuket to get better as well. Not only big businesses, but the whole system, including the locals, will also reap the benefits,” he adds.

Phuket Governor Chokchai Dejamornthan commends the company on its plans and says he hopes to see their vision become a reality before long.

“I am happy to see that business people and rich people in Phuket want to help their hometown. I completely support the idea. If Phuket people themselves will not do anything for Phuket, then who else will,” asks Governor Chokchai.

“However, all I see right now is a plan. I have seen a lot of plans already, but what I really want to see is plans being turned into reality. I am glad to offer help and support on behalf of the government, as long as it’s legal and above board,” he added.

— Kongleaphy Keam


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