Authorities to urge junta leader to invoke Section 44 for investors

The Treasury Department has announced that it may ask Thailand’s junta leader to use his absolute power to amend laws that prevent investors from renting out lands in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to other businesses.

Chakkrit Parapuntakul, Director General of the Treasury Department, told media that the department recently received a letter from the Industrial Estate Authorities of Thailand (IEAT) about laws that obstruct investors from developing industrial estates in SEZs and from renting them out to other businesses.

He said that the Treasury Department will discuss the matter before raising it with the Interior Ministry’s committee on SEZ policies.  

“[The department] might propose [the NCPO leader] use Section 44 [of the Interim Charter] for private business’ initiatives in industrial estates,” said Chakkrit. “Section 44 [has been] already invoked on many occasions before to support the construction of SEZs, such as [to amend] the Town Planning Act and [to reclaim] areas listed as national parks, protected forest and lands belonging to Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO).”  

The head of the Treasury Department said that when the department previously opened a public auction on SEZs in Trat, Nongkhai and Mukdahan Province, only one land developer was interested in the Trat SEZ. Others were concerned about laws that obstruct them from developing lands in SEZ for profits.

In a move to shake up the lethargic Thai economy, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, head of the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and Prime Minister, invoked in May 2015 his authority under Section 44 of the Interim Charter to announce NCPO Order No. 17/2015. Section 44 gives the junta absolute power in maintaining national security.

The order sanctioned turning large areas in Tak, Mukdahan, Nong Khai, Sa Kaeo and Trat provinces — all bordering Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia — into Special Economic Zones (SEZs) where industry deregulation and tax cuts are offered to lure investors.

In addition to the pilot SEZ projects in these five provinces, land in five other provinces, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Phanom, Kanchanaburi, Songkhla, and Narathiwat, are to be expropriated and cleared for SEZs. 

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