Businesses have voiced their support for the government's 2-trillion-baht borrowing bill for infrastructure development.
Road transportation is still the main route so when an accident occurs, it costs time and money.
However, they urge the government to listen to the public and conduct environmental impact assessments (EIAs) on projects funded by the money.
Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC), said the TCC agrees with the government's infrastructure plans and considers it imperative for the state to accelerate development, particularly in the area of land transport.
"Thailand's land transport costs are relatively high now, driving the country's overall logistics costs to 15.2% of gross domestic product or 1.75 trillion baht," he said Tuesday.
Land transport now makes up almost 86% of overall transport, with marine travel accounting for 12%, rail 2% and air 0.02%.
Given the average cost of transport overall, land routes cost 1.72 baht per tonne per kilometre, rail 93 satang and marine 64 satang.
Nonetheless, Mr Isara insists the government have an in-depth study conducted on its return on investment, a capital investment analysis and a list of benefits if the government is committed to proceeding with its controversial nationwide high-speed train proposal.
Vice-chairman Phumin Harinsut said since the bill is vital to the country's logistics strategy and overall economic development, the government must take caution with each project to ensure the greatest benefit, increase the country's competitiveness and foster social equality.
He also expressed concern over project transparency, management and execution.
The TCC yesterday came up with three proposals to the government's infrastructure bill, covering transportation infrastructure, the government's role in project management and requirements for preparation of human resources and technology transfers.
For transport infrastructure development, the TCC urged the government to concentrate on a dual-track railway as the first priority, as this sort of investment benefits not only cargo operations but also passenger transport.
As well, the government is being urged to conduct additional benefit studies on the proposed high-speed railway and ensure connectivity to neighbouring countries in order to accommodate future economic growth.
Mr Phumin said an independent body should also be set up to manage the 2-trillion-baht infrastructure budget, as existing state agencies are not flexible enough to oversee such large projects.
As the massive loan bill is considered off-budget spending, making it difficult for auditing and control, a supervisory body is also desperately needed to monitor the spending to ensure transparency.
The government should also overhaul rules on cross-border cargo transport and trade, said Mr Phumin.
About the author
- Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
Position: Business Reporter