Thai govt to cut EIA short for mega projects

Thai govt to cut EIA short for mega projects

The cabinet under Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta’s leader and Prime Minister, has given a green light to the proposal to shorten the EIA process by half to speed up mega construction projects.

According to Thai News Agency, Somkid Jatusripitak, the Deputy PM and junta’s chief economic advisor, said on Tuesday, 3 November 2015, that the cabinet has approved the plan to cut short the process to conduct Environmental Assessment Impacts (EIA) on PPP (Public and Private Partnership) mega projects.

The proposal is coined to reduce the length of the process to conduct EIA ahead of mega infrastructure projects from about 22 months currently to only nine months.

Somkid said that the plan will increase the speed and efficiency of the process to give out public concessions to private companies.

He added that under the current system the EIA process has to be completed prior the procedure to give out contracts to private companies, but with the new proposal both steps can proceed together at the same time with the participation of all relevant public agencies.

According to Apisak Tantivorawong, the Finance Minister, there are currently seven ‘PPP Fast-Track’ projects comprise Bangkok Transit System (BTS) railway line extension, highway projects in western and northeastern Thailand, and Garbage factories in the central and northeastern provinces.

These projects will be made pilot projects in which the process to conduct EIA will be shortened significantly.

The minister added that when the regulation on the EIA process is shorten, the government will no longer has to invoke Section 44 of the Interim Charter, a section which gives the military government nearly absolute power, to make ways for the mega projects constructions.

Recently, the Thai junta invoked Section 44 to announce NCPO Order No. 17/2015. The order mandates turning large areas in Tak, Mukdahan, Nong Khai, Sa Kaeo and Trat provinces, bordering Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia, into Special Economic Zones (SEZs), where deregulation of industry and tax cuts are offered to lure investors.

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