Thai Senate passes US$70B infrastructure bill, constitutional court to rule if it is legal

Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand - betw...

Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand – between the C and the D gates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Thai Senate have passed the about US$70 billion infrastructure borrowing and spending bill, but critics will submit the bill to the Constitutional Court if it is against the law. The World Bank and the IMF have said delay in the spending will hurt Thailand’s growth prospect. The bill is aimed at improving Thailand’s logistics, distribute growth to the province, and help Thailand become a center for ASEAN trade.

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that will allow the government to borrow $69.5 billion to build high-speed train lines and other transport infrastructure over the next seven years.

The Senate voted 63-13 in favor of the financing plan which allows the Finance Ministry to borrow the funds in Thailand and overseas worth 2.2 trillion baht, without going through the annual government budget process.

The projects will include four high-speed rail lines that will connect Bangkok with Chiang Mai in the north, the Laotian border, Thailand’s industrialized eastern seaboard and Malaysia.

Other projects include building more ports, expanding the mass transit network in the capital and surrounding provinces and building dual-track rail lines that the government has said could triple the number of rail services per day from the current 90. It is part of a push to switch hauling of goods from roads to rail to lower fuel consumption, logistics costs and delivery times.

The government has said the projects, to be completed by 2020, will boost Thailand’s economic growth, create jobs and improve investor confidence.

Critics say the bill would raise public debt to unacceptably high levels and will reduce transparency by bypassing the annual budget process.

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