Faster infrastructure spending to help recovery

Thailand’s Minister of Transport has vowed to fast track economic recovery by speeding up billions of dollars in spending on big infrastructure projects to boost the economy in light of global economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m trying to expedite budget disbursement to elevate government spending in generating a chain reaction that increases economic activities,” Minister of Transport Saksayam Chidchob said in an interview last week.

Government infrastructure spending to stimulate the domestic economy is a classic policy approach that has been employed by many administrations around the world for over a century. During 1933-1939 in the United States, President Franklin Roosevelt invested enormous sums in building infrastructure, called public works at the time, as part of a strategy to propel the country out of the Great Depression.

Thailand’s economy has been contracting this year because of lockdowns, as well as other measures and restrictions on movement put in place to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The government has achieved a remarkable public health success with that strategy, but at a fair cost to the economy.

The administration of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha is already engaged in a massive national infrastructure upgrade as part of its 20-year strategy for advanced development. Many of the projects involve transportation and logistics, including high-speed rail lines, ports and airports.

Since typical large infrastructure projects often move at a gradual pace due to their lengthy process, it prompted Minister Saksayam to press the government’s partners to move more quickly in building to prime the pump of the country’s economic engines.

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