Thailand’s 100 billion-baht ($3.02 billion; €2.53 billion) Future Fund, which was first announced by the government in 2015, will be officially launched by the end of this year, according to a senior government official.
The government-run investment vehicle will provide seed money to domestic infrastructure projects, including the country’s PPP programme, said Virasakdi Futrakul, Thailand’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, during yesterday’s Belt and Road Summit, in Hong Kong.
Since the fund was proposed in 2015, Thailand’s Ministry of Finance has been planning to seed it with 10 billion baht through the state-controlled Vayupak Fund, a listed vehicle, and raise the remaining 90 billion baht from domestic and international investors via an initial public offering.
The launch of the fund has been repeatedly delayed, with the launch date moving from April this year to September, and now to the latest year-end deadline. The delay was said to be based on cost concerns over the fund launch, according to a Bangkok Post report.
Despite the delays, Futrakul highlighted that Thailand offers promising infrastructure investment prospects, with opportunities worth $120 billion over the next five years, on the back of a broader set of prospects emerging from the ASEAN region.
During an ASEAN meeting in Laos last September, leaders of ASEAN nations agreed on a master plan on connectivity for the next 10 years – a major focus of which is to build infrastructure linking member countries’ transportation, electricity transmission and telecommunication sectors. The estimated infrastructure gap for ASEAN countries stands at more than $110 billion per year.
Works are also in progress to formulate a “super free-trade agreement” among ASEAN, East Asian and the Pacific countries, Futrakul said. The FTA, expected to be finalised by the end of this year or early next year, will be the largest in the world and will help fast-track trade and investment flows, as well as stimulate growth throughout the region.