Grand Project Schemes
In a break from grassroots-type projects and programs, the Thai government
has been proposing a number of grand projects designed to create new regional
centers of economic activity:
- In January 2003 for example Thaksin announced a 28 billion baht ($650
million) plan to make the northern city of Chaing Mai an international aviation
hub. The initiative aims to upgrade airport facilities and capacity to promote
Chiang Mai as an alternative site to Bangkok for foreign trade and investment.
- Also in January 2003 Thaksin unveiled a 100 billion baht plan to transform
the resort island of Pyhuket into a laboratory for high-tech research and
development. The software industry is one of several export businesses the
authorities hope will be centered here.
- In another major initiative, the government has recently resurrected centuries-old
plans for cutting a canal through Thailand to shorten shipping routes between
Europe and East Asia. The proposed project, including construction of two
harbors, a monorail and a highway across the Isthmus of Kra would cost around
While EAEM model cannot serve as the sole basis for future growth, it's not
clear that massive expenditures of this nature will necessarily come up with
new services in which the country has a clear comparative advantage.