No Confidence Debate – Day 2. Minister of Transport asked to explain the 5.7 trillion baht budget.

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Opposition MPs have so far failed to stun the Thai prime minister or any of his ministers at this stage of the four-day censorship debate. Today, the opposition is targeting Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob over one of Thailand’s megaprojects – the MR Map.

The MR map is a list of megaprojects across the country, mostly involving improved rail and road networks, as well as the controversial land bridge linking Ranong and Chumpon.

(The land bridge has become the preferred version of an inter-peninsula link for shipping containers, whereby west-east vessels unload containers at Ranong, they are shipped overland on the land bridge routes, and then reloaded onto ships at a port in Chumphon, to contempt their journey, thereby cutting off the longest route along the Straits of Malacca and via Singapore. Originally, this was to be a full channel, in the Panama Canal style.Read more HERE)

But the 5.7 trillion baht project has been criticized by Move Forward MP Surachet Praweenwongwut, who says the projected costs amount to approx. 80,000 for every Thai citizen.

“The belief that MR-Map projects will lead to the creation of new cities will not come true. It will connect many existing cities and will not lead to the creation of new ones.

“It is not worth the investment and duplicates other similar infrastructure projects.

“The budget would be better spent on improving urban planning, public transport, water and electricity systems in existing cities and provinces.

“The 5.7 trillion baht includes the budgets of all Thai ministries combined for 12 years and the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture for 74 years.”

In response, the transport minister defended the project, insisting it will boost the Thai economy rather than waste money.

“The mega project will be a joint investment between the government and the private sector, including foreign investors, and it is not necessary that all projects be implemented simultaneously.

“The mega project will not be a waste of taxpayers’ money, but it will be a boon to the Thai economy and the Thai people.

Today is the second day of the four-day no-confidence debates that stemmed from the fourth no-confidence motion tabled by opposition parties against the prime minister and his cabinet ministers.

The vote will take place on Saturday afternoon but, at this stage, the positional parties have been unable to cause significant damage to the 17-party coalition government.

THE SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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