September 19, 2017 / 11:16 AM / a year ago

Thailand approves law to speed up $45-billion development plan

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s cabinet on Tuesday approved a measure to accelerate a $45-billion plan to develop the industrial east and attract foreign investors, as the ruling junta seeks to boost long-term economic growth, a government official said.

FILE PHOTO - Tourists visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok May 24, 2014. REUTERS/Erik De Castro/File Photo

Growth in Southeast Asia’s second largest economy has lagged regional peers since the army took power in 2014. Planned big-ticket infrastructure projects have been slow to get off the ground.

The junta hopes the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) development plan, worth 1.5 trillion baht ($45.36 billion), will lift growth to about 5 percent a year by 2020, from a projected figure of 3.5 percent to 4.0 percent this year.

“The law will be the foundation for Thailand’s eastern development... and will boost investors’ confidence,” Kobsak Pootrakul, a vice minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, told reporters.

The law, expected to take effect in four or five months, would offer investors in the EEC benefits such as tax breaks and the right to rent property for up to 99 years.

Investors will not have to comply with currency exchange control rules and can use foreign currencies in trade settlements in the region.

In the first five months after the EEC plan took effect, from March to July, it has attracted 160 projects worth 23.4 billion baht, Kobsak said.

Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by xxxx

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