Pheu Thai firm on infrastructure investment, rice subsidy policies

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BANGKOK, Jan 8 – Thailand’s Pheu Thai Party will press ahead with its policy for massive infrastructure investment if it holds the majority after the general election, its executive announced today.

Pichai Nariptaphan, a leading member of the Pheu Thai’s economic team, said the infrastructure development — particularly on the transport system — will alleviate energy consumption and the costs of logistics.

The Pheu Thai-sponsored legislation on Bt2 trillion for the mammoth scheme is pending the Constitution Court’s ruling on its legality.

If the bill is rejected by the court, Pheu Thai will propose annual budget allocations for similar investment on, for instance, dual track railways, 10 rail routes and road expansion projects, he said.

Mr Pichai said infrastructure development is vital to Thailand in light of the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community next year which compels the kingdom to focus on improvement of human resources and fundamental facilities.

On the highly-criticised rice pledging scheme, he said, the party will improve the information technology system to control and manage rice stocks and disbursement, insisting that the rice subsidy project is one of the Pheu Thai’s significant policies though it needs some adjustment.

He categorically rejected allegations of populism as creating a debt burden to the country, saying Thailand’s public debt against gross domestic product during the Pheu Thai government was at 45 per cent.

It was less than 50 per cent which could be implied that the Yingluck government’s projects would never plunge the country to bankruptcy, he said.

Mr Pichai said the months-long political rallies have cost Thailand Bt140 billion in tourism revenue after losing three million foreign visitors.

The hotel occupancy rate during the annual mid-winter high season was only 40 per cent, he added.