Myanmar’s cabinet is expected to make a decision in three months on whether it will seek a 4.5-billion-baht soft loan from Thailand to build a 138km road from the Thai border to the Dawei deep-sea port and special economic zone in Myanmar’s southern Tanintharyi region.
Myanmar’s Commerce Minister Than Myint, who also serves as the co-chairman of the Thailand-Myanmar Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC), made the remark yesterday. He said parliamentary approval on the matter would be sought soon.
“The Myanmar government is eager to immediately develop the Dawei project because it can create benefits for both countries,” Than Myint said.
The committee met yesterday for the first time since the government led by “state counsellor” and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi came to power last year amid a transition from the previous military rule.
It agreed the road is important to the project and that it should be built as part of the so-called initial phase, said Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, transport minister and another co-chairman of the JCC.
“Myanmar agreed the road should be developed first and funded by public finance,” he said.
“It should be separated from the initial phase to pave the way for Italian-Thai Development [ITD] to have room to borrow from financial institutions so it can develop an industrial estate … and other facilities,” he said.
ITD won the concession for the initial phase in 2015 and had planned to include the two-lane road in this stage.
Mr Arkhom said that the first phase should consist of a 27sq km industrial estate, a LNG-receiving terminal, telecom landlines, a power plant, a small port and a reservoir.
“Both sides expressed their intention to jointly expedite and develop the Dawei Special Economic Zone (DSEZ) to attract investment from the private sector,” Mr Arkhom said.
They also agreed to establish two sub-committees to work out details of the project.
The first of these is a joint Thai-Myanmar technical task force overseeing the road. It will comprise the Highway Department, Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency, Myanmar’s Road Construction Department, and Myanmar Investment Commercial Bank.
The second committee will focus on revising the DSEZ with the help of the National Economic and Social Development Board, the Fiscal Policy Office, and Myanmar’s Ministry of Planning and Finance and Ministry of Commerce.
They must make presentations to the JCC in Nay Pyi Taw in October.