Thursday, 27 April 2017 09:40

Prayut reassures investors on EEC VOW COMES AS U-TAPAO HUB SLATED AS 'EASTERN AVIATION CITY'

Source - The Nation (Eng)

Thursday, April 06, 2017

          PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday assured investors that his government was firmly committed to developing the Eastern Economic Corridor on a long-term and sustainable basis and would warmly welcome participation by the private sector.

          He made the remarks during his visit to the eastern province of Rayong with his ministers to follow up on EEC development and the upgrade of U-tapao International Airport.

          At the airport, he met with representatives of businesses who wanted to learn more about the EEC project.

          The EEC policy committee yesterday resolved to designate U-tapao and its surroundings as an "Eastern Aviation City", whose 6,500 rai (1,040 hectares) of land would be developed at a cost of  Bt200 billion over five years.

          The EEC draft bill will be tabled before the Cabinet at its Tuesday meeting.

          The prime minister told the business representatives that the government was deeply determined to turn the EEC into the country's future growth engine and would continue to draw up investment privileges, issue regulations and increase manpower to support the corridor's growth, said Lt-General Weerachon Sukondhapatipak, deputy PM Office spokesman.

          Some of the business representatives said they were ready to support the EEC plan.

          Weerachon cited a representative of BMW as saying the carmaker was ready to work closely with the government to push forward the EEC's development.

          A representative of Lazada said the government should breed more digital and information-technology workers to serve the rapid expansion of the digital business here.

          A representative from Toyota said the car company plans to invest to its fullest extent in Thailand.

          Prayut said after the meeting of the EEC policy committee that the corridor was the first step of the country on its way to joining the high-income league. The EEC, which spans Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong provinces, is designed to be the leading economic zone in Asean and to embrace 10 target industries.

          As part of the EEC's road map, the Navy and Thai Airways Inter-national signed an agreement to develop jointly the first phases of the aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul centre and the air cargo and logistics centre.  The moves are part of the plan to transform U-tapao into an aviation service hub operating at international standards.

          Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth, president of Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, said the firm was ready to open a medical facility in the EEC.

          Medical centre

          He said he had no problem financing the project if the government was ready to set a national agenda for Thailand to become a regional medical hub and ensure the plan materialised.

          Once the government put the agenda into place,  Prasert's  BDMS group would rush to start the investment in the EEC late this year.

          Hiroki Mitsumata, president of Jetro Bangkok, the local arm of the Japan External Trade Organisation, said Japanese companies had confidence in the Thai government but could not specify when they would start investing in the EEC.  Japanese investors think the EEC should offer more benefits than the present measures.

          Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said Toyota Motors (Thailand) was prepared to reveal a big investment plan for the EEC.

          He said Jetro was welcome to consult formally with the government on the matter but he believed that the Japanese investors would definitely jump into the EEC zone.

          The EEC committee also assigned the National Economic and Social Development Board to join with the Interior Ministry and state agencies to conduct a feasibility study on setting up a smart city in Chachoengsao.

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