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Thailand announces $609m infrastructure fund

The country has launched a pilot infrastructure fund worth more than $600m in an attempt to boost growth.

Thailand’s State Enterprise Policy Office (SEPO) which was created in June this year by the National Committee for Peace and Order (NCPO), the government junta, announced on Wednesday the launch of a $609 million fund.

The 20-year baht-denominated vehicle was created by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and is Thailand's first state-owned financing platform.

It is the first of the five initiatives announced last September by the NCPO as part of a $75 billion infrastructure programme intended to boost economic growth over the next eight years (2015 to 2022), and which will focus on transportation infrastructure.

“This fund will be a pilot project. If it is successful and well received, this may be an opportunity for other state enterprises to enter the stock market in the future,” Kulit Sombatsiri, director-general of the commission is reported to have said after a SEPO board meeting.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand and Head of the NCPO, was present, as chairman of the committee overseeing state-owned enterprises, alongside Sombutsiri, director of SEPO, which was created last June.

SEPO is part of the “property group”, one of three parts of the junta government’s Finance Ministry, the other sub-divisions being the “expense and debt group”, and the “income group”.

The State Railway of Thailand, the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRT) and the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) have been accused of not generating any returns to the state from 2008 to 2013, according to local press, and are anticipated to be recipients of funds from the vehicle.

It will focus on mass rail transit projects to better connect the capital and its vicinities, as well as improving the country’s links with neighboring countries.

The plan will undergo Cabinet scrutiny for approval this month before submission for filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.