June 17, 2012
BANGKOK, June 15 (Bernama) — Thailand has provided a grant and a soft loan for neighbouring Laos to finance the latter’s construction of an extended railway to reach its capital, Vientiane, over the next couple of years, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported.
Lao Deputy Finance Minister Viengthong Siphandon and President of Thailand’s Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA) Acksiri Buranasiri signed an agreement on the cooperation in Bangkok on Thursday, under which NEDA offers the financial support for Laos to build the 7.75-kilometer-long Tha Naleng-Vientiane railway track worth 1.65 billion baht. (RM1=9.9 Baht)
The Thai financial assistance to Laos comprises a 495-million-baht grant which accounts for 30 per cent of the project price and another soft loan equivalent to the rest 70 per cent or 1.16 billion baht with a grace period of 10 years.
The project is an extended section of the rail line from Thailand’s northeastern Nong Khai Province to the Tha Naleng Station in Laos. The extended line is scheduled to be complete over the next two years, which will facilitate travels and cargo transportation to Vientiane.
According to the NEDA chief, the extended railway will also support the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), scheduled to be established by 2015, as it will further promote Thai investment in Laos, employment and orders for materials from Thailand.
Laos is, however, required to hire a Thai contractor and to use 50 per cent of raw materials from Thailand. The extended rail track is to be one-meter-wide, also known as the meter gauge, but will be adjustable to support the standard gauge of 1.46 meters wide to serve high-speed trains.
Besides, Laos plans to export products from its potash mines through Thailand’s eastern Laem Chabang deep sea port and, thus, a new high-speed railway from China through Laos to Nong Khai and Bangkok will further promote travels and exports of Thai fruits and other farm products and will also boost their prices.
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