BANGKOK – Thailand plans to get from “domestic sources” most of the funding for a 179 billion baht (US$5.3 billion) high-speed railway project built with China, a finance ministry official said on Monday.
The 873-km (542 miles) rail line, which will link Thailand’s border with Laos to eastern ports and industrial zones, is part of Beijing’s regional infrastructure drive that China originally named “One Belt, One Road”.
The link, in theory a centrepiece of Chinese-Thai cooperation, has been held up by years of negotiation over everything from cost and loan terms to land development rights.
Last month, Thailand’s military government invoked an executive order to kick-start the project.
Under terms agreed so far, Thailand will fund the project and China will provide technical assistance.
“As about 70-80% of the project’s cost will occur in the country, so the funding will mainly be from domestic sources,” Theeraj Athanavanich, bond market adviser at Thailand’s Public Debt Management Office, told reporters.
He did not elaborate on whether “domestic sources” included state budgets, bond issues or bank loans.
The government will also seek some foreign borrowing and is negotiating with the Export-Import Bank of China, but no conclusion has been reached, the official said. Some foreign borrowing will be for imports such as trains, he added.
The current state budget has allocated 1.7 billion baht for designing the railway project, Theeraj said.
Source: Reuters, The Edge Markets