The Democrat Party is seen as having an edge over Pheu Thai in terms of megaproject policies that are more realistic and potentially less harmful to the environment. However, the country’s oldest party should create more variety in terms of infrastructure, according to a researcher.
Analysts also recommended that both parties clarify factual economic benefits and sources of funds to finance these huge projects such as mass-transit rail lines, high-speed railways and the southern landbridge.
Somchai Jitsuchon, research director for macroeconomic development at the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), said Pheu Thai Party’s proposed 20-baht fare for any trip on its promised 10 mass-transit rail lines was “not reasonable”.
“This means the electric train riders do not have to share the cost of the project,” he said.
Most electric train riders are office workers who can afford to pay 40 to 50 baht for the entire route, Dr Somchai added.
The Democrat has promised 12 rail lines with a total distance of 509 kilometres, of which 75 km have been built. The party also plans high-speed railways linking intra-regional routes including Thailand-Kunming and Thailand-Malaysia routes.
The party also promises to develop the Laem Chabang deep-sea port into a harbour city with an investment budget of 100 billion baht, partly to build a high-speed train route linking Bangkok, Pattaya and Rayong, as well as a logistics network system.
“I think local high-speed train service should be added. The Bangkok-Chiang Mai route, is particular, is a must because it could be an option for tourists in addition to travelling by air. A large number of tourists go to Chiang Mai every year,” Dr Somchai said.
He said the Democrats should have a larger variety of megaprojects as the rival Pheu Thai Party has committed to projects such as a dam linking Samut Sakhon and Samut Prakan to prevent floods from hitting the capital every year. Also, the previous opposition party has planned a landbridge to connect the Andaman coast with the Gulf of Thailand.
“This project will benefit Thailand as we will not lose an opportunity to do trading business to Singapore anymore,” Dr Somchai noted.
But he strongly criticised Pheu Thai’s plan to offer tax incentives to first-car buyers in order to promote Thailand as an automotive hub.
“This is not essential and should not be done,” said Dr Somchai, citing the current traffic problems and concerns over bad debts.
Charl Kengchon, managing director of Kasikorn Research, said the dream megaprojects of both parties look good but more details in terms of economic benefits should be elaborated.
“Thailand’s logistics cost is high because our infrastructure is not good enough, affecting the country’s competitiveness. Thus, investing in infrastructure should be the priority of whichever party that will become the new government,” he said.
“But I would like to hear details in terms of impacts of those investments on the country’s fiscal status, initial economic benefits, and the sources of funds to make sure these investments are justified,” Dr Charl said.
Source: Bangkok Post