Thai Cabinet OKs borrowing $68B for megaprojects

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Associated Press

Posted on March 19, 2013 at 7:04 AM

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's Cabinet has approved a plan to borrow $67.6 billion to build high-speed train lines and other transportation mega-projects over the next seven years.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Tuesday the government will borrow from domestic and foreign sources, rather than go through the annual budget process, to ensure the continuity of the infrastructure expansion and give investors confidence. Parliament must approve the financing plan.

The projects include four high-speed rail lines that will connect Bangkok with Chiang Mai in the north, the Laotian border, the country's eastern seaboard and Malaysia. The government says the projects will boost economic growth and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The plan's critics say it reduces transparency by bypassing the budgetary process and raises public debt to unacceptably high levels.

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