After a series of cost-cutting efforts to cope with the global oil price collapse, Thailand’s state-owned PTT and its downstream subsidiaries are now being urged by Bangkok to raise their five-year capital expenditure budgets.

The about-turn is down to the government’s need to guarantee domestic investment in its Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project to boost an economy that has been adrift for several years.

Lawrence Chong, CEO of Consulus, believes that China will be one of the EEC’s most enthusiastic backers. “Singapore certainly has an interest but more importantly, Thailand is counting on its neighbour to the north to trigger an economic boom through the EEC,” Chong told NBI. To this end the Thai government has invoked the controversial Article 44 in the new military-promoted constitution to push forward a new fast railway that will link the EEC with China, he said. Article 44 allows suspension of normal regulations.

Fast-tracking the railway “is a clear indication who will be the key stakeholder for the EEC”, which is potentially a game-changer for Thailand and the region, Chong said.

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