Thai khemkaeng in Chiang Mai

19 12 2009

The government’s propaganda arm, the MCOT, reports on Thai khemkaeng projects from deep inside red shirt stronghold Chiang Mai (16 December 2009: “Bright investment outlook for Chiang Mai”).

While Chiang Mai might be a “political stronghold of Thailand’s former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, convicted of misusing the power of his office,” the MCOT tells its readers that the “investment outlook seems brighter in the year to come…”. Why is this? MCOT explains that it is “thanks to the government and private investments.”

The government has “at least five big projects are set to get off the ground next year, including an international exhibition and convention centre project … [and] a development project for road expansion to facilitate agricultural transport, a logistics system and a project to improve a local bus terminal in the provincial seat to support millions of incoming tourists.”

These projects “have a budget of over Bt3 billion (some US$90 million) from the government’s Strong Thailand Project, of which Bt18 billion (US$545 million) is allocated for the province…”.

The president of Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce is happy about the budget from the Strong Thailand Project, claiming that ” Bt4 billion ($121 million) has already been distributed to various projects here…”.

Big beneficiaries of this Thai khemkaeng investment are said to include “two big [real estate development] companies from Bangkok and Dutch investors planning  to “extend abut Bt3 billion ($90 million) for construction of a large department store…”.

The Abhisit Vejjajiva government continues to hope that pouring funds into “local” areas will improve the economy, create jobs and translate into votes. This is seen in the approach to the northeast (Bangkok Post, 18 December 2009: “Democrats set out plans for Northeast”), where the opposition Puea Thai Party is very strong but where the “Democrat Party is looking into extending the debt moratorium for village fund members as a means to woo northeastern voters…”. It also plans to increase funding to village development funds and to expand the  railway network.

Leading the charge are Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu (already the subject of major corruption allegations associated with various government spending projects), Democrat deputy leader Kraisak Choonhavan (who only joined the party just prior to the last election),  and Democrat list MP Somkiat Pongpaiboon  (one of the leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, which now has its own New Politics Party). The Democrats also “showcased government projects such as the Thai Kem Kaeng (Thailand: Investing from Strength to Strength) scheme to stimulate the economy.”

Sound familiar? Remember the criticisms made of the Thaksin Shinawatra government accused of “policy corruption” that was considered the equivalent of vote buying? That kind of criticism was made by each of the Democrat Party politicians listed in the previous paragraph.

Bright investment outlook for Chiang MaiThe global economic downturn coupled with several of political turbulence have marred the investment atmosphere in Chiang Mai, a political stronghold of Thailand’s former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, convicted of misusing the power of his office, but the northern city’s investment outlook seems brighter in the year to come thanks to the government and private investments.

In the public sector alone, at least five big projects are set to get off the ground next year, including an international exhibition and convention centre project on a piece of land covering over 300 rai (about 120 acres). There is also a development project for road expansion to facilitate agricultural transport, a logistics system and a project to improve a local bus terminal in the provincial seat to support millions of incoming tourists.

All these will have a budget of over Bt3 billion (some US$90 million) from the government’s Strong Thailand Project, of which Bt18 billion (US$545 million) is allocated for the province, while provincial authorities expect to generate more employment and income to stimulate the local economy.

According to the president of Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, the budget from the Strong Thailand Project is one factor that will help improve the economy of Chiang Mai.

“As the budget for this project has been allocated mainly at the local level here in Chiang Mai, there’ll be more investment and construction for the primary infrastructure. Now Bt4 billion ($121 million) has already been distributed to various projects here,” said Narong Kongprasert, president of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce.

Meanwhile, the vice president of the Real Estate Entrepreneur Association of Chiang Mai and Lamphun viewed that the property business in the region is outstanding and continues growing in this year’s last quarter following signs of economic recovery.

“The tendency of the housing development market in Chiang Mai this year hasn’t actually gone down,” said Paisan Phucharoen, the association’s vice president.

“Although there were problems of Thailand’s internal politics of colour codes in the beginning of the year, the economy in Chiang Mai in 2010  could in fact be vigorous, for I heard that there are two big companies from Bangkok which came to buy and plan to develop land here in the province.”

To show signs of the positive investment tendency, an instance of the private sector’s big investments is due to the fact that around Bt1.2 billion (some $36 million) has recently been invested in a housing development project, set to be completed early next year on a piece of land connecting Chiang Mai’s provincial seat and Hang Dong district, an area considered a prime location for real estate developers, and where other several projects are also under construction.

Also, as a city of undoubted potential, Chiang Mai has recently attracted a group of Dutch investors to extend abut Bt3 billion ($90 million) for construction of a large department store to be targeting over 14 million northern Thais.

From all investments planned ahead, the city has guaranteed itself that for the year to come it is still a jewel for many who love to discover more of this land called the ‘Rose of the North’ filled with its Lanna culture. (TNA)

Features : Last Update : 17:46:29 16 December 2009


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