Clarity to lighten up MTP

Construction News

Clarity to lighten up MTP

All parties holding breath for ruling today

All eyes are on the Central Administrative Court today (02.09.2010) as it makes its final ruling on the fate of suspended industrial projects in Map Ta Phut, with high hopes that the outcome will lift investors’ confidence and increase investments the country.

Industry Minister Chaiwuti Bannawat said that clarity about projects in the giant industrial estate in Rayong could help push new investment applications to 500 billion baht this year as targeted by the Board of Investment (BoI).

The court is scheduled to rule whether the 76 suspended projects in Map Ta Phut can proceed after the National Environmental Board (NEB) last Monday approved a list of 11 harmful activities that would be subject to extra regulation.

The NEB, chaired by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, shortened the list from 18 activities proposed by the four-party panel head by former prime minister Anand Panyarachun.

“About 500 billion baht has remained our target. Since the list of [harmful] activities has become clear, there is an opportunity for us to reach 500 billion as projected,” Mr Chaiwuti said yesterday.

The minister, however, noted that there were still some concerns in capital-intensive industries such as petrochemicals and steel, in terms of location and the need to conduct environmental and health impact assessments (EIA and HIA).

BoI secretary-general Atchaka Sibunruang said the agency was confident that applications would reach a project value of 500 billion baht.

“There are a number of projects worth tens of billions of baht waiting for approval for BoI investment privileges,” she said.

“Foreign investment has been on the rise, partly due to the recent clarity about the Map Ta Phut issues and the economic recovery.”

The private sector, including the energy giant PTT, is also optimistic about the ruling on their suspended projects and future investments.

“After those projects are clear of the list of 11 harmful activities, we have growing hopes that they will be able to resume operations,” said Chainoi Puenkosoom, chief executive of PTT Aromatics and Refining Plc (PTTAR).

In any case, the court ruling should benefit the investment climate by providing a clear guideline and timeframe for investors to prepare their plans, he added.

PTT had 25 projects in Map Ta Phut halted when the court issued a temporary injunction in September last year after environmental groups complained that the rules under Section 67 of the 2007 Constitution had not been followed.

PTT has committed to complete HIA reports for all suspended projects including its sixth gas separation plant.

Tevin Vongvanich, PTT’s chief financial officer, said that if the court rules that the sixth gas plant can proceed, the project will be able to operate in the current quarter. This will help increase PTT’s revenue in the second half of the year and it will be fully operational in the fourth quarter.

However, if the project falls into the harmful category, the plant could not start before mid-2011, he added.

“We have five gas separation plants in operations, four of them are in Map Ta Phut. These plants have never been declared harmful projects,” he said.

According to the BoI, total 777 projects have applied for investment incentives in the first seven months, a 43% increase from the same period of last year, but project value slid 1.4% to 214 billion baht.

Foreign direct investment reached 108 billion baht compared with 74 billion in the same period last year.

Dr Atchaka said that even a possible change of government would not affect direct investments because it would not lead to the changes in investment policies.

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