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World Bank Advises Thailand to Foster Infrastructure Development in Smaller Cities, Bolstering Competitive Potential

The World Bank has issued a comprehensive report titled “Thailand Urban Infrastructure Finance Assessment” in collaboration with the Area Development Capital Administration and Management Unit (B.A.D.) and Khon Kaen University. This report underscores the vital importance of fostering infrastructure development in cities beyond Bangkok to unlock the country’s economic growth potential and alleviate inequality. To achieve this, the report emphasizes the need to attract private capital for urban infrastructure enhancements.

While Bangkok has historically served as a powerhouse of economic growth and productivity within Thailand, the report highlights the imperative of shifting focus to other provinces like Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, and Rayong as Bangkok’s growth momentum begins to wane. The key to unlocking their potential lies in strategic investments in public transportation systems, renewable energy infrastructure, and other urban amenities within these provinces. These investments are considered crucial for enhancing Thailand’s overall competitiveness and its capacity to adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.

However, raising the necessary capital for such infrastructure projects in these provinces cannot rely solely on central government budgets. The report advocates for exploring alternative financing avenues, including municipal-level borrowing, and opening opportunities for private investors to participate in state-owned enterprises.

The expansion and enhancement of urban infrastructure will have far-reaching benefits for both urban populations and the nation as a whole. It will result in improved access to reliable transportation and electricity, facilitating better market access, education, and healthcare services. Furthermore, it will enable efficient movement of people, goods, and services within and across provinces, driving growth, employment opportunities, and a higher quality of life.

Crucially, the development of public sector services, such as water and wastewater management and solid waste systems, will yield significant environmental and health advantages. Additionally, bolstering urban infrastructure will enhance resilience against natural disasters like floods and droughts, safeguarding the well-being and prosperity of these provinces and their inhabitants.

The World Bank’s recommendations underscore the importance of forward-looking urban infrastructure development as a critical driver of economic growth, competitiveness, and sustainable development in Thailand’s smaller cities, ultimately contributing to a more equitable and resilient nation.

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