NESDB seeks Dawei nod from NCPO

Dawei development remains uncertain, as the government's planning unit still needs to ask for guidelines from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) regarding whether and how to proceed.

A source said the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) would soon report on updated development to the NCPO and ask for guidelines from the junta on how to proceed.

"If the NCPO gives the nod to continue the development project, the NESDB will have only one committee between Thailand and Myanmar to supervise the development," the source said.

The previous government had established a high-ranking committee and a coordinating committee to supervise the development.

The source said the Dawei project was now in the process of conducting due diligence on the project's investment cost.

Two consultancies have also been hired to revise the terms of reference to make the project attractive to potential foreign investors.

The project has been subject to delay since the House dissolution last December.

The massive project took another twist early this year when no bidders applied for concessions opened in February for three ventures — a dual-lane highway linking Thailand with the site in eastern Myanmar, a small port and a 30,000-rai industrial estate.

Under the original schedule, Dawei SEZ Development Co (DSEZ), a special-purpose vehicle (SPV), had planned to open bidding for the three construction jobs in February and announce the results this month.

NESDB secretary-general Arkhom Termpittayapaisith warned that the project would prove difficult to develop if the Myanmar and Thai governments failed to invest in infrastructure and utilities.

Normally, investment in megaprojects or large industrial towns worldwide is handled by the government, which invests in utilities and infrastructure while offering privileges to persuade the private sector to set up factories.

Thailand and Myanmar last November officially agreed to push the ambitious scheme forward, with three memoranda of understanding (MoUs) signed by the two countries.

The first MoU covered the framework agreement of the Dawei concession and its transfer to DSEZ from Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD).

Thailand and Myanmar last June agreed to set up DSEZ with an equal shareholding and initial investment of 12 million baht, far below the 100 million baht proposed earlier. The company is registered in Thailand.

The two countries also agreed to set up SPVs to manage the port, road and rail links, power plants, waterworks, industrial estates, a telecommunications network and the township. SPVs will be registered in Myanmar.

The second MoU concerns revocation of the existing concession between ITD and Myanmar, while the third involves the warranty that new investors in the port and roads are legally obligated to pay for what ITD has already invested in, worth 6 billion baht.

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