Thai junta considers $93 billion transport plan, much costlier version of plan by ousted govt

BANGKOK – The head of Thailand’s military junta said Friday he is considering a 3 trillion baht ($93 billion) plan to build more rail lines and other infrastructure, adding more than $30 billion to a cancelled project of the government it ousted.

Army commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha told a meeting of civil servants that “the 3 trillion baht project” was under discussion.

“I have not approved it yet. We have to ask the Budget Bureau how much money we have,” he said.

In March, a court struck down the previous government’s 2 trillion baht ($62 billion) infrastructure plan as unconstitutional and said it would raise public debt to unacceptable levels.

The Bangkok Post reported Friday that the Transport Ministry’s new plan is based on the previous government’s model. It maintains road and dual-track railway construction projects but eliminates plans for four high-speed rail lines. The new plan adds water and aviation projects, including the expansion of Bangkok’s two airports that have increased the cost to 3 trillion baht.

The previous government had said the projects would boost Thailand’s economic growth, create jobs and improve investor confidence.

The junta, which seized power from the elected government on May 22, has criticized the former administration for corruption and mismanagement. But it has begun to consider and implement policies that are similar to those of the ousted government.

The transport permanent secretary Somchai Siriwattanachoke said the infrastructure plans should be implemented over seven years from next year until 2022, the Post reported.