Infrastructure Update: Thailand to Take Leading Role in Establishing Regional Infrastructure Development Fund

Infrastructure Update | June 11, 2018
Authors: Sunita Kapoor, Jack Myint, and Hemaa Sekar
 

LOOKING AHEAD

Briefing on ASEAN Smart Cities Network, June 18

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THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Thailand to Take Leading Role in Establishing Regional Infrastructure Development Fund
According to Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a regional fund is currently being created among Thailand and its neighbors Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), to support infrastructure and other development projects across the Mainland Southeast Asia region. Thailand is set to make the initial contribution to the fund and while an official figure has not yet been revelated by the Ministry, it is “likely to be in the millions of dollars”. The idea will be proposed by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha on June 16 to CLMV leaders at the 8th summit of the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS).

The proposed fund, which is expected to be operational by 2019, will be made available for projects that fall in line with ACMECS' 2019-2023 master plan that will be adopted during the June 16 summit. The plan aims to enhance connectivity, promote harmonization of trade and logistics rules, improve infrastructure, and develop information technology platforms across the CLMV by upgrading the East-West and North-South economic corridors. Aside from the substantive material gains to the region, there seems also to be a largely political tangent at play. And that is for ASEAN allies to place a counterbalance on the rising influence of China over the CLMV through its rapidly growing infrastructure investments in each of these countries per its Belt and Road Initiative. According to Professor Prapat Thepchatree at Thammasat University, a regional fund seems the best approach to reduce the rising influence of China in ASEAN. "The increasing dependence on China is a big issue in ASEAN," he said. "Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia have been relying heavily on investment and trade but that comes with a trade-off of their economic freedom." With that being said, it is often difficult to establish a durable funding source within ASEAN, given the wealth disparity between nations and their varying priorities and constantly shifting political atmospheres. As such, the new infrastructure fund will look to financial institutions and countries outside ASEAN and the ACMECS framework, in addition to raising capital through the stock and bond markets by issuing debt.

Malaysia’s New Government Pulling Out of the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail Project

On May 30, the newly elected Pakatan Harapan Government of Malaysia, led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, voted to scrap the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail project (HSR), in a move to control government spending and decrease the national debt of RM1 trillion (S$335 billion). According to the new government, the HSR would reportedly cost at least RM110 billion, contrary to the RM72 billion estimate advanced by the former Barisan Nasional government. The move comes as no surprise, as Pakatan Harapan had been an avid supporter of its cancellation throughout its general election campaign. Prime Minister Mahathir believes that renegotiating or scrapping expensive infrastructure projects such as the HSR could reduce the debt by as much as a fifth, or roughly RM200 billion (US$50 billion). The scrapping itself however, would involve a financial compensation to Singapore, potentially as much as RM500 million (US$126 million), which the Malaysian government is looking to reduce.

Currently, the Singapore government has claimed that it is continuing to incur costs on the HSR, while awaiting clarification from Malaysia regarding its intent to completely pull out of the project. The Malaysian Government, so far, has claimed that it is not completely shutting the door to the project, and is open to revisiting it after it has managed to lessen its debt burden and negotiate more favorable terms for the project, and that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad will be personally handling further negotiations with Singapore.

The HSR was hailed a “game changer” when it was first proposed by the administration of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at the 2013 annual leaders' retreat in Singapore and was supposed to shorten travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to just over 90 minutes from the current 4 hours by car. The project was planned to stretch 688km, connecting the South China Sea at the Thai border in the east with the shipping routes of the Strait of Malacca in the west. The line was to have 8 stops, 7 in Malaysia and 1 in Jurong East, with 335km of the line in Malaysia, and the remaining 15km in Singapore. Apart from reducing travel time, it was expected to add 28,700 jobs, increase property value and technology transfer, develop the tourism industry, and contribute RM6.2 billion to Malaysia's gross domestic product.

Mr. Mohd Nur Ismal Mohamed Kamal, the Chief Executive of MyHSR Corporation, the state firm that would have been responsible for implementing the project, estimates that scrapping the deal could result in a loss of RM209 billion (US$52 billion) in gross national income. Construction companies, research firms, and sub-contractors on both sides which won tenders for the project are also set to take losses. Additionally, the Jurong Lake District, envisioned as Singapore’s second Central Business District, would also lose some of estimated rise in property value it was supposed to gain from the construction of the HSR. Some other potential losers are said to be property-owners in the Jurong area and along the planned HSR track. Airline and bus companies, however, are set to gain from the cancellation of the project, as they will continue to be the main modes of transport to both sides of the Causeway.

With a more prudent government in place, the already-started East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) has also come under fresh scrutiny, which would cost RM55 billion (US$14 billion) and stretch 688 km (428 miles), connecting the country’s east and west coasts. An important project within China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the ECRL is being built by China Communications Construction and is mainly financed through a loan provided by China Exim Bank. This project too, is potentially on the chopping block, given Prime Minister Mahathir’s criticisms of such mega projects during the May election.

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

Cambodia
Eastern rail link gears up for service

Indonesia
West Java’s Kertajati Airport starts operation on Thursday
Indonesia, China sign two MoUs on infrastructure development
Indonesia Improves in Getting Private Money for Infrastructure
Indonesia continues to top infrastructure development index: report
Indonesia's Infrastructure Spending Below Average, How Come?

Laos
World Highways - Plans for Laos-Vietnam highway
Fifth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge Approved

Malaysia
Malaysia's Cabinet agrees to scrap KL-Singapore high-speed rail, citing national debt: Mahathir
Singapore will be told of Malaysia's wish to scrap high-speed rail: Mahathir
Mahathir confirms Malaysia will scrap KL-Singapore HSR project
Malaysian govt evaluating economic implications of cancelling HSR: Economic Affairs Minister
Malaysia axes project to build high-speed rail link with Singapore
KL to see how to cut S'pore compensation if HSR ditched
Malaysia to look at ways of reducing costs if HSR is dropped: PM Mahathir
Terms of KL-Singapore HSR agreement may have to be renegotiated: Azmin Ali
Malaysia's Finance Ministry unearths S$3.2b gas pipeline scandal
China’s south-east Asia push threatened by new Malaysia regime
High-Speed Rail review a blow to Malaysia’s construction industry, market research firm warns

Myanmar
Myanmar invites expression of interest for Yangon expressway
Ministry of Construction commits to four mega projects in 2018
Korea-Myanmar Industrial Complex to be in Hlegu | Eleven Myanmar
Yangon extends circular road construction for booming investments | Eleven Myanmar
Government woos private sector in construction of Yangon elevated ring road
Jobs touted as Bago gives green light to industrial zones
Yangon to implement new urban development projects

Philippines
April infrastructure spending doubles to P65.6 billion
Gov’t spending jumps 43%
Infra spending seen to push Philippine growth up to 8% this year | Philstar.com
April infrastructure spending nearly doubles on road projects, momentum of ‘Build, Build, Build’
Guadalupe-BGC Skytrain construction seen to start in 2018
Build, Build, Build to highlight infrastructure, transportation and connectivity
8 groups vie for Clark airport O&M contract
Land disputes may delay Marawi rehab efforts
TRAIN suspension to slow BBB, other critical projects
Aviation dreams soar, but infra constraints could keep clipping airlines’ wings
PCC finds Grab a monopoly, cites ‘deteriorating service’
Infrastructure projects to gain from National ID System

Singapore
LTA awards S$1.16b contracts for construction of North-South Corridor tunnels
Singapore's construction costs are the 4th highest in Asia
Next Transport Master Plan should aim to create a seamless, inclusive system: Janil Puthucheary
Singapore requires “geofencing” for all bike-sharing firms in the city
S'pore can contribute to Asean's sustainability effort, says Heng

Thailand
U-tapao aerotropolis to open for bids in October
Bang Sue megastation project reaches halfway mark
BTS aims to double revenue in five years
Three projects look to get on PPP fast-track
BMA agrees to offer more elevators for disabled
New Sino-Thai draft on way
EEC Act in force after long delay
PM assesses infrastructure projects for the Northeast
Thailand to launch Mekong regional fund to reduce China dependence

Vietnam
FPT Software proposes trial of self-driving autos
Hà Nội to crackdown on delayed projects
Lạch Huyện int’l port opens in Hải Phòng
Consultant proposes lower-cost plan for HCM City airport expansion
MVL to enter ride-hailing market

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
 

Cambodia

Eastern rail link gears up for service Phnom Penh Post 15th May 2018
The Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT) expects to begin service on a 107-kilometre train route from Battambang to Pursat on May 29, saying on their Facebook page that officials are actively working on restoring the track. “Our officials are working tirelessly, both day and night, to begin the train service through the plan that will [be launched] in May this year,” MPWT said in its Facebook page on Sunday.

Indonesia

West Java’s Kertajati Airport starts operation on Thursday The Jakarta Post 22nd May 2018
Kertajati International Airport in Majalengka, West Java, will officially start its operation as an international airport on Thursday, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said in Jakarta on Tuesday. “The airport was opened as an international airport [on Thursday],” said Budi after a meeting with Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan at Luhut’s office, adding that certificates and other operational permits had been issued by the relevant agencies.

Indonesia, China sign two MoUs on infrastructure development Antara News 8th May 2018
Indonesia and China have signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) on cooperation in infrastructure development during Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang`s visit in Indonesia on Monday. Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, and his Chinese counterpart from the Chinese National Reform and Development Commission signed a MoU on the promotion of cooperation in the development of regional comprehensive economic corridors at the Bogor Presidential Palace in the presence of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

Indonesia Improves in Getting Private Money for Infrastructure Jakarta Globe 28th May 2018
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo must have felt relieved and proud when the presidential airplane touched down at Kertajati International Airport in Majalengka, West Java, to inaugurate its service last week. The president can now showcase the airport as a successful and punctual public-private partnership (PPP) for infrastructure development.

Indonesia continues to top infrastructure development index: report Xinhua, 28th May 2018
Indonesia continues to top the Belt and Road Infrastructure Development Index for two consecutive years, according to a report issued here at a forum on Thursday. The report, released at the ninth International Infrastructure Investment and Construction Forum in China's Macao Special Administrative Region, was based on infrastructure development environment, development potential and development trend of the countries and regions along the Belt and Road Initiative. Singapore, Pakistan, Russia, Vietnam, Brazil, Poland, Turkey, Malaysia and India also rank in the top 10 in the index. The overall infrastructure development in those countries and regions features an upward development momentum with fluctuation, the report said.

Indonesia's Infrastructure Spending Below Average, How Come? Indonesia Investments, May 29th, 2018
If we take a look at Indonesia's central government spending in the first four months of 2018, then we detect something interesting. Overall, government spending has grown in the January-April 2018 period (compared to the same period one year earlier). However, growth in government spending is led by rising social assistance spending and rising subsidy spending. Meanwhile, growth of infrastructure spending has been much less robust. Does this mean that the Indonesian government has curtailed infrastructure development spending in order to relieve rising pressures on the budget deficit?

Laos

World Highways - Plans for Laos-Vietnam highway AEC News Today 6th Jun 2018
Plans are being drawn up in Laos for the new highway connecting its capital Vientiane with Hanoi, the capital of neighbouring Vietnam. The project is expected to cost in excess of US$4.5 billion, with much of the Laos section of the route running parallel to the existing Road N0 13 South. The route will be 707km long, crossing the border between Namphao in Laos and Cau Treo in Vietnam. Three potential routes have been evaluated for the highway in Laos and two in Vietnam but the most costly have already been rejected. It now looks as if the route through Borikhamxay Province in Laos is favoured. And for Vietnam, the route through Nghe An Province is seen as more suitable, due in part to its lower cost. Financing for the project has yet to be finalised.

Fifth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge Approved The Laotian Times 26th May 2018
The Lao and Thai governments have officially given the green light to the construction of the 5th Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge that will soon link Beung Kan Province in northeastern Thailand to Paksan, Bolikhamxay Province in Laos. An anonymous source from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT)) told local newspaper The Vientiane Times on Tuesday that Lao and Thai officials approved the plans when they met in Paksé earlier this year. Furthermore, a 6th Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge linking Salavan (Laos) to Ubon Ratchathani (Thailand) is also currently in the proposal stage. “The two bridges may be built at the same time, but the date of construction will need further consideration,” the MPWT source said. The 1.6km-long bridge is likely to cost over USD$110 million (3.6 billion baht). Land clearing for the construction of a road heading to the site in Beung Kan province has already started with land along the road being expropriated and landowners compensated. Rubber trees along the route have also been felled for the road construction. Thai PBS reports that it is likely that construction will begin towards the end of this year. Once complete, the bridge will serve as a major transport route that will link Thailand with several cities in Vietnam. Departing from Beung Kan Province, it would only take vehicles 150km of travel to reach Nge An Province in Vietnam via Lao National Highway No. 8 through Bolikhamxay. In Nge An, the route then links up with roads to Hanoi, Danang and other cities in Vietnam. In addition, the new bridge will further permit accessibility to the northern Lao provinces of Xieng Khuang and Huaphan to tourists from Thailand. The bridge will likely provide a further boost to Bolikhamxay’s already fast-growing economy which boats an economic growth rate of 8% last year with a GDP of about 5 trillion kip and average annual per capita income of 17.9 million kip (USD $2,151). Beung Kan province depends mainly on ferries and boats for goods transport to neighboring countries through the Beung Kan – Paksan border checkpoint. Cross-border trade through this checkpoint came to approximately USD $160 million, according to statistics in 2011. The amount rose to USD $168 million in 2012 and is likely to continue to increase. Around 128,000 people cross the border by boat each year. About the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridges There are currently four Thai-Lao Friendship Bridges. Both countries officially opened the first Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge, linking Nong Khai in northeastern Thailand with the Lao capital of Vientiane, on the 8th of April, 1994 (Australian Government aid, USD$30 million construction cost). The second Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge, linking Mukdahan, also in northeastern Thailand, with the central Lao province of Savannakhet, was opened on the 20th of December, 2006 (low-interest loan from the Japanese Government, construction cost of USD$70 million). The third Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge, linking the northeastern province of Nakhon Phanom in Thailand with Khammouan province in central Laos, was opened on the 11th of November, 2011 (Thai Government grant, construction cost of approximately USD$60 million). The fourth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge links Chiang Khong District of Chiang Rai Province in northern Thailand with Houayxay of Bokeo Province in Laos and was opened at the end of 2013, made possible due to a joint investment by the Thai and Chinese Governments. Source: Vientiane Times, Public Relations Department Thailand, Thai PBS, Lao Economic Daily

Malaysia

Malaysia's Cabinet agrees to scrap KL-Singapore high-speed rail, citing national debt: Mahathir The Straits Times 30th May 2018
Malaysia's Cabinet has agreed to scrap the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project due to high financial costs, subject to discussions with the Singapore government, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Wednesday (May 30). When asked why the project, estimated to cost RM60 billion (S$20.25 billion), was called off, he said: "The most important thing for us now is to reduce the amount of borrowings by the government. "We have borrowed too much money. And we cannot pay so much money if we continue with the project. So we are not only looking at HSR but also mega projects which cost us billions of dollars," he told a news conference after chairing the weekly Cabinet meeting. When asked if the HSR and other mega projects would be revisited once Malaysia's finances are better, he said: "Definitely. I think tomorrow (Thursday) you will get a more detailed briefing of what we are doing to ensure that these borrowings can be handled, that government spending will be reduced, and we will achieve a budget that will not show a very big deficit."

Singapore will be told of Malaysia's wish to scrap high-speed rail: Mahathir The Straits Times 30th May 2018
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday (May 29) that Singapore will be informed about Malaysia's wish to scrap the high-speed rail (HSR) project. He also said that he stood by earlier comments that the project would cost a total of RM110 billion (S$37.2 billion), after a former Malaysian minister who was in charge of the project said on Tuesday that estimates had put the cost at RM50 billion to RM70 billion. He had told the media on Monday that the HSR would be scrapped as the new government seeks to trim its RM1 trillion debts. Asked on Tuesday whether Singapore had been informed, he replied: "No, I made a statement with the press (on Monday), but they will be informed." The HSR deal, inked by the previous administration in December 2016, would see the 350km line slash travelling time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to 90 minutes when completed in 2026.

Mahathir confirms Malaysia will scrap KL-Singapore HSR project Channel NewsAsia 29th May 2018
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad confirmed in a press conference on Monday (May 28) that Malaysia will drop the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail project (HSR), saying the project will not benefit his country. "It is a final decision, but it will take time because we have an agreement with Singapore," Dr Mahathir said. "It's not beneficial. It's going to cost us a huge sum of money. We'll make no money at all from this arrangement," he added. "(The HSR) is only a short track. It is only going to save people one hour by taking the HSR." When asked by Channel NewsAsia if the decision had been communicated to Singapore, Dr Mahathir replied: "I don't know."But he said Malaysia will discuss the matter with Singapore.

Malaysian govt evaluating economic implications of cancelling HSR: Economic Affairs Minister The Straits Times 28th May 2018
The Malaysian government is looking at the possible economic implications if it were to cancel the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) and East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) mega projects.

Malaysia axes project to build high-speed rail link with Singapore U.S. 28th May 2018
Malaysia is cancelling a project to build a high-speed rail link between its capital, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore, and will talk with its southern neighbor about any compensation Malaysia has to pay, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday. Mahathir, the 92-year-old who triumphed in a general election this month, has made it a priority to cut the national debt and pledged to review big projects agreed by his predecessor that he says are expensive and have no financial benefit. “It is a final decision, but it will take time because we have an agreement with Singapore,” Mahathir told a news conference referring to his scrapping of the project, valued by analysts at about $17 billion. Mahathir said Malaysia may have to pay about 500 million ringgit ($125.63 million) to Singapore to get out of the deal. “We had agreed to proceed with the High Speed Rail project based on mutual benefits and obligations,” Singapore’s Ministry of Trade said in a statement. “We will wait for official communication from Malaysia.”

KL to see how to cut S'pore compensation if HSR ditched The Straits Times 27th May 2018
The Malaysian government is looking at how it might reduce the compensation it has to pay to Singapore if it decides to drop the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project. With Malaysia looking at ways to cut costs to pare its debt of RM1 trillion (S$337 billion), mega projects such as the 350km HSR deal inked in 2016 under previous prime minister Najib Razak and the RM55 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) have come under fresh scrutiny. In an interview with The Edge weekly published yesterday, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, whose coalition swept to power on May 9, raised the possibility of both rail projects being dropped. The HSR is estimated to cost up to RM50 billion, and will slash the travelling time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to 90 minutes when completed in 2026.

Malaysia to look at ways of reducing costs if HSR is dropped: PM Mahathir Channel NewsAsia 26th May 2018
Malaysia is going to look into how it can reduce the cost of any potential exit from a deal with Singapore for a high-speed rail (HSR) to link its capital Kuala Lumpur with the city-state, said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in an interview published on Saturday (May 26). Addressing the need to reduce the national debt and liabilities - which the government puts at around RM1trillion or 80 per cent of its GDP - Mahathir said "at one go we can reduce it by RM200 billion by doing away with all these huge projects". The HSR project, valued by analysts at about US$17 billion, is currently out for tender and is scheduled to be completed by 2026. Mahathir, the 92-year-old who triumphedover scandal-plagued Najib Razak in elections earlier this month, has made it a priority to cut the national debt and pledged to review major projects agreed by the previous government.

Terms of KL-Singapore HSR agreement may have to be renegotiated: Azmin Ali Channel NewsAsia 23rd May 2018
Malaysia's newly appointed Economic Affairs Minister, Azmin Ali, said on Saturday (May 19) he has been tasked to review mega projects the previous government embarked on, including the High Speed Rail (HSR) project linking up Kuala Lumpur to neighbouring Singapore. An agreement had been signed between Malaysia and Singapore under previous prime minister Najib Razak to build the rail link - but Azmin said this did not mean it could not be reviewed. "Certainly we need to renegotiate certain terms. We want to see whether the whole process was transparent or otherwise," he said. "So it is my duty to get a team and look and sit down and discuss. And we may have to renegotiate all these projects." The rail project was slated to have commenced operations by 2026.

Malaysia's Finance Ministry unearths S$3.2b gas pipeline scandal The Straits Times 5th Jun 2018
KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Finance Ministry has discovered dubious payments made in two pipeline projects, with nearly 90 per cent of the contracts worth RM9.4 billion (S$3.2 billion) being paid out but only 13 per cent of the work being completed.

China’s south-east Asia push threatened by new Malaysia regime Financial Times 15th May 2018
Chinese president Xi Jinping and former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak thought they had devised the perfect “win-win” deal. Beijing pledged tens of billions of dollars in loans and investments to support Malaysia’s economy and Mr Najib promised to roll out Chinese rail and port developments, as other Belt and Road projects stalled across south-east Asia. However, the Malaysian people got in the way, last week voting out the ruling party headed by Mr Najib for the first time in 60 years, in part because of accusations that their graft-tainted leader was selling out the country.

High-Speed Rail review a blow to Malaysia’s construction industry, market research firm warns TODAYonline 15th May 2018
Malaysia’s construction sector will be impacted if the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) regime under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad decides to cancel, suspend or even review some large scale China-backed infrastructure projects, market research company BMI Research said on Friday (May 11). While the Fitch Group unit said it does not believe the PH government would cancel projects such as the East Coast Rail Link, Singapore-KL High Speed Rail (HSR), and the mega Forest City project, it predicted possible delays to funding.

Myanmar

Myanmar invites expression of interest for Yangon expressway Mizzima 29th May 2018
Myanmar's Construction Ministry has invited expression of interest from local and international firms for a ring road expressway in Yangon, the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Ministry of Construction commits to four mega projects in 2018 The Myanmar Times 23rd May 2018
In Mandalay, the MOC has shortlisted six companies, one of which will be selected as Master Developer of the New Mandalay Resort City, which will be developed in Pyin Oo Lwin. 

Korea-Myanmar Industrial Complex to be in Hlegu | Eleven Myanmar Eleven Myanmar 22nd May 2018
US$ 110 million worth Korea-Myanmar Industrial Complex(KMIC) project will be implemented in Nyaungnapin, Hlegu Township, Yangon Region. The approximately 555 acres wide project will begin near Nyaungnapin village, western part of about 5-mile away from the Yangon-Mandalay Expressway and it is a joint venture between Civilian and Housing Development Department under the Ministry of Construction and Korea Land and Housing Cooperation under the Republic of Korea.

Yangon extends circular road construction for booming investments | Eleven Myanmar Eleven Myanmar 22nd May 2018
Construction of new circular roads is being extended in the whole Yangon Region to boost investments in outskirt areas, says U Than, Joint Secretary of Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC). “The current population of 5.2 million will be increasing to over 10 million by 2040 because Yangon will become a “Mega City”. As more and more of the population moves into Yangon, especially there will be developments along Circular Railroad,” said U Than.

Government woos private sector in construction of Yangon elevated ring road The Myanmar Times 21st May 2018
The MOC on May 18 invited both local and international companies interested in designing, engineering, financing, constructing, operating and maintaining the proposed expressway under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to submit EOIs before June 29.It also added that it may decide to split the project into sections involving multiple tenders. Each section will be developed under a PPP structure or by accepting funds from the IFC. 

Jobs touted as Bago gives green light to industrial zones Mizzima 19th May 2018
The Bago Region government will make land available for the construction of industrial zones in Bago Region, according to the Global New Light of Myanmar in a report on 19 May.

Yangon to implement new urban development projects Mizzima 14th May 2018
Myanmar has laid out new urban development projects for the Yangon region inviting local and foreign entrepreneurs to invest in the master plan through a recent Yangon Investment Forum held in the commercial city, according to a Xinhua report on 13 May. The Yangon Region Investment Committee said that sub-centers, new towns, railway stations and industrial zones will be established as part of the new urban development plan.

Philippines

April infrastructure spending doubles to P65.6 billion philstar.com 31st May 2018
Infrastructure spending almost doubled to P65.6 billion in April from last year, driving the jump in total government disbursements during the period, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said yesterday. In a press briefing, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said disbursements on infrastructure projects and other capital outlays in April rose twice as much as the P33.5 billion recorded in the same month last year. This brought cumulative infrastructure expenditures to P222.7 billion in the first four months, 47.5 percent higher than the P151 billion recorded in the same period in 2017. According to Diokno, the strong growth in infrastructure spending is in line with the administration’s Build Build Build program.

Gov’t spending jumps 43% Inquirer 31st May 2018
The national government’s spending surged by 43 percent year-on-year in April to P261.2 billion, driven mainly by a doubling of expenses on infrastructure, according to the Department of Budget and Management. This brought disbursements for the first four months of 2018 to P1.03 trillion, up 29 percent from P798.4 billion in the same period. Budget Secretary Ben E. Diokno yesterday said in a briefing that disbursements for infrastructure and other capital outlays last month jumped 96 percent to P65.6 billion from P33.5 billion in April 2017.

Infra spending seen to push Philippine growth up to 8% this year | Philstar.com philstar.com 30th May 2018
The rate of public spending on infrastructure and accelerated pace of project completion would enable the Philippines to post a seven to eight percent growth rate this year, said First Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC). In a statement, the investment banking arm of the Metrobank Group said the 32.4 percent growth in infra spending and other outlays in March is an indication that the government’s infrastructure program is “full steam ahead.” “The construction of roads, police stations, and rehabilitation of schools accounted for the strong outlay in infrastructure resulting in a 30-plus growth on total government spending, which is seen to push economic expansion and hit the seven to eight percent target this year,” said FMIC. The firm also noted that total government spending in the first quarter exceeded programmed spending, “suggesting that various reforms and programs are being implemented.”

April infrastructure spending nearly doubles on road projects, momentum of ‘Build, Build, Build’ BusinessMirror 30th May 2018
Government spending on infrastructure rose by 95.9 percent for the month of April to P65.6 billion, driven by road-construction projects being done by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in line with the government’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) infrastructure program, the budget chief said. That April 2018 spending represented a near doubling of the P33.5 billion recorded in the same month for 2017. “Disbursements rose by 43 percent in April 2018,  with the huge jump attributed to strong spending on infrastructure in line with the BBB. Infrastructure spending almost doubled, from P33.5 billion to P65.6 billion, in April 2018. Total government spending is at P1.03 trillion for the first four months of the year, posting a 29-percent increase year-on-year,” Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno told reporters on Wednesday.

Guadalupe-BGC Skytrain construction seen to start in 2018 Rappler 28th May 2018
The infrastructure unit of tycoon Andrew Tan's Alliance Global Group Incorporated (AGI) expects to start construction of its proposed P3-billion Skytrain in 2018. The two-kilometer Skytrain monorail would link the Guadalupe Station of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) to Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City. With the DOTr's approval, the proposed Skytrain would now be up for review of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board's Investment Coordination Committee. "We can start the project before the year ends and [it] will take us two years to complete it. By early 2021, we can open the Skytrain to the public," said Infracorp president Kevin Tan.

Build, Build, Build to highlight infrastructure, transportation and connectivity philstar.com 27th May 2018
The Build, Build, Build program is the centerpiece of the administration’s claim to reduce poverty incidence from today’s 21.6 percent to 14 percent by 2022. It is designed to modernize the country’s infrastructure backbone by rolling out 75 flagship projects with a combined worth of $36 billion in investments. The project seeks to uplift the lives of more than six million Filipinos to set the economy securely on the road to upper middle income status by 2022 and to a high-income one by 2040. While some critics have questioned the financial sustainability of the ambitious undertaking, the government primarily eyes the enactment into law of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) to secure its steady revenue flow, totaling a P786 billion over the medium term. This, ideally combined with a prudent fiscal management and the declining debt service payments, is hoped to make this ambitious infrastructure buildup financially feasible.

8 groups vie for Clark airport O&M contract Inquirer.net 22nd May 2018
The bidding for the operation and maintenance of Clark International Airport in Pampanga province—seen as an alternative to Manila’s congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport—lured big names and one brewing issue, with an interested bidder seemingly disqualified at the onset. The state-run Bases Conversion and Development Authority said eight groups acquired bid documents for the 25-year concession to operate Clark airport. The bid submission is targeted on July 20, 2018, with awarding seen by Aug. 24 this year. These groups were Megawide Construction Corp. together with India’s GMR Infrastructure, Metro Pacific Investment Corp., Filinvest Development Corp., San Miguel Holdings Corp., Manuel Villar Jr.’s Prime Asset Venture, and Central Luzon Infrastructure Consultancy Inc. consortium. Foreign groups included India’s GVK Airport Developers Ltd. and France’s Groupe ADP, previously known Aéroports de Paris, which helped design the long-term master plan for Clark airport. Clark airport is the only facility that has a clear place in the government’s so-called multiairport strategy, which partly involves building new capacity before Naia reaches its limit, stalling future growth.

TRAIN, forex swings won’t swell ‘BBB’ cost BusinessMirror 16th May 2018
IMPLEMENTATION of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law and the peso depreciation will not increase the cost of “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) and flagship projects, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia acknowledged that prices of construction materials, such as cement, may go up due to the increase in demand for the infrastructure projects.

TRAIN suspension to slow BBB, other critical projects philstar.com 11th May 2018
The proposed suspension of the tax reform law could slow down the implementation of the administration’s massive infrastructure program and affect other key projects of the government, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said yesterday. In a text message, Dominguez said the Senate’s proposal to suspend the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law could affect the government’s ability to fund its infrastructure and social programs.“Suspension of the tax reform program will certainly tend to slow down the Build Build Build program and negatively affect the government’s ability to fund the free tuition fee program, as well as increase in salaries of the police and the military,” Dominguez said. .

Aviation dreams soar, but infra constraints could keep clipping airlines’ wings BusinessMirror 2nd Jun 2018
CAPACITY constraints continued to stunt the growth of domestic air travel in Manila in 2017 and unless the problem is properly addressed through infrastructure buildup, development of the overall local aviation market will continue to be stymied in 2018. Based on government data, the domestic air travel market grew by 6 percent to 24.8 million in 2017, the same rate by which it grew a year prior. This, according to think tank Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (Capa), is quite unusual, given that the market grows at a much faster pace than the local economy, which advanced 6.7 percent.

PCC finds Grab a monopoly, cites ‘deteriorating service’ Manila Bulletin 28th May 2018
This Statement of Concerns (SOC) was published yesterday by the PCC’s Mergers and Acquisitions Office (MAO). Basically, the SOC said that the acquisition by Grab Holdings, Inc. and MyTaxi.PH, Inc. of Uber B.V. and Uber Systems Inc. on March 25 has resulted in a “substantial lessening of competition” in the ride-hailing market. “PCC-MAO finds compelling grounds to take Grab to task for its virtual monopoly of both the driver and customer base after the merger,” the anti-trust body said in a statement. Worse, despite the increase in Grab’s supply of drivers, price monitoring data before and after Uber’s app shutdown on April 16, 2018 showed an upward trend in Grab fares and frequency of surge-pricing after the shutdown. PCC also noted that passenger surveys and interviews likewise indicate more driver cancellations, forced cancellation of rides, and longer waiting times. PCC-MAO finds that these harms to passengers are a result of the loss of competition previously posed by Uber on Grab.

Infrastructure projects to gain from National ID System philstar.com 8th May 2018
The savings from a more efficient delivery of public services with the implementation of a national identification system would help boost funding for vital government projects and programs, according to Philippine Statistics Authority head Lisa Bersales. Bersales said the government could save an amount equivalent to two percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) over a five-year period with the implementation of the National ID system. The National ID System could help plug leakages from social protection programs of the government, including conditional cash transfers (CCT), unconditional cash transfers (UCCs), and benefits for senior citizens,  Bersales said.

Singapore

LTA awards S$1.16b contracts for construction of North-South Corridor tunnels Channel NewsAsia 23rd May 2018
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has awarded two civil contracts worth S$1.16 billion for the construction of the North-South Corridor (NSC) tunnels, the LTA said in a news release on Wednesday (May 23). The first contract, worth S$602.6 million, was awarded to Samsung C&T Corporation, LTA said. Samsung C&T Corporation will be responsible for designing and constructing a 1.37km section of the tunnel, located between Toa Payoh Rise and Marymount Lane. The second contract, worth S$553.8 million, was awarded to a joint-venture between Leighton Contractors (Asia) and Yongnam Engineering & Construction. The companies will be responsible for a 0.64km stretch of the tunnel between Kampong Java Road and Suffolk Walk, as well as the widening of the Rochor Canal. Commuter facilities such as pedestrian overhead bridges, sheltered linkways, bus stops and cycling paths will also be built along this stretch as part of the contract. The NSC will include express bus lanes and cycling trunk routes to connect towns in the northern region to the city centre. It is expected to be completed in 2026.

Singapore's construction costs are the 4th highest in Asia Singapore Business Review 23rd May 2018
Singapore is now the fourth most expensive city in Asia to build in, design and consultancy firm Arcadis revealed. It follows Hong Kong, Macau and Tokyo in Asia, and ranks 27th in the world on the construction cost index. According to the International Construction Costs 2018 report, Singapore’s construction market has started to pick up, after several years of continuous correction caused by over-supply and a slowing economy. "Demand is higher and there has been a change in market sentiment as construction cost levels are no longer dropping," it said. Moreover, construction cost movement for 2018 is anticipated to range between -1% and +2%. "Public sector demand remains the key contributor with approximately 60% of the total forecasted construction demand," Arcadis added.

Next Transport Master Plan should aim to create a seamless, inclusive system: Janil Puthucheary Channel NewsAsia 17th May 2018
The next Land Transport Master Plan (LTMP) should focus on providing a seamless, inclusive land transport system with stronger connectivity to regional centres, said Senior Minister of State Janil Puthucheary in Parliament on Thursday (May 17). There will be three key aspirations that the Ministry of Transport (MOT) will explore in the new LTMP. Firstly, a seamless land transport system that can easily integrate new and innovative mobility solutions as they emerge. The second key aspiration is to cater to diverse needs of all commuter groups and empower all to use the transport system independently. The last key aspiration is to develop stronger connectivity to regional centres such as Woodlands, Jurong and Punggol and Tampines to bring jobs and daily essential activities closer to home. Dr Puthucheary stressed that the public can share their views and ideas of what the next LTMP should encompass. He announced that MOT will set up an LTMP advisory panel comprising representatives of key stakeholders such as commuters, workers, academics and disruptors. They will discuss ideas collated through feedback channels and make recommendations to the Government.

Singapore requires “geofencing” for all bike-sharing firms in the city South China Morning Post 4th Jun 2018
Singapore has directed all dockless bike-sharing service providers in the city state to modify their mobile apps and adopt “geofencing”, a system designed to address the problem of illegally parked and misplaced bicycles. Regulator the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has made geofencing a mandatory feature for bike-sharing services by the end of this year, while also requiring providers to apply for a licence before July 7 to continue operations in the city, according to a report by Chinese language Singaporean newspaper Lianhe Zaobao.

S'pore can contribute to Asean's sustainability effort, says Heng The Straits Times 3rd May 2018
Singapore can promote green financing in the region given its stable finance regulatory environment, and help create a business culture of sustainable practices through its own experiences in the field, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday. There must be a collective Asean effort towards smart and sustainable development, to which Singapore can contribute, he said at the opening of the three-day Singapore Sustainability Symposium. "Sustainability innovations, technologies and practices that we develop here must have the relevance and scalability to be applied in different parts of the world," said Mr Heng. For example, the National Research Foundation's urban solutions and sustainability domain is focused on supporting ideas that enhance areas such as transport and liveable spaces. Mr Heng added that Singapore is well placed to promote green financing efforts in the region, citing the example of the Association of Banks in Singapore, which introduced guidelines for responsible financing in 2015. These guide banks to assess their clients' environmental, social and governance risks as part of credit evaluation processes.

Thailand

U-tapao aerotropolis to open for bids in October Bangkok Post 5th Jun 2018
The terms of reference (ToR) for the U-tapao aerotropolis worth over 200 billion baht will be open for bidding through a public-private partnership (PPP) in October, with the winner expected to be unveiled early next year. The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) meeting on Monday chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha mandated to develop the first phase of the aerotropolis within five years to support a linkage with the high-speed rail connecting three airports -- Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao.

Bang Sue megastation project reaches halfway mark Bangkok Post 27th May 2018
Construction for the Bang Sue Central Station, set to replace Hua Lamphong as the capital's main rail transport hub, is now almost 50% complete, SRT Red electric train line project director Kumpol Boonchom says. According to Mr Kumpol, the megastation, spanning more than 240,000 sq m, and located near the Bang Sue junction on Thoet Damri road, will be a hub for high-speed rail links in addition to standard electric train lines and diesel trains.

BTS aims to double revenue in five years The Nation 23rd May 2018
Also projecting strong revenue gains is subsidiary VGI Global Media, which is looking to reach the Bt10 billion mark in annual sales in three years. BTS Group Holdings Plc chairman Keeree Kanjanapas said that the group expects that over the five years it would boost its revenue by 25 per cent each year. He said it would do so by advancing its pipeline of projects, such as those involving the collaboration with Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc (STEC) and Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Plc (Ratch) for the establishment of the BSR consortium in order to bid for the high-speed and double-track rail projects in the EEC.

Three projects look to get on PPP fast-track Bangkok Post 22nd May 2018
At least three projects worth 447 billion baht under the fast-track public-private partnership scheme are expected to seek the PPP committee's approval this year. The three projects are the Orange Line's eastern and western sections from Taling Chan to Min Buri, worth 238 billion baht; the Purple Line's southern extension between Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road and Tao Poon, valued at 128 billion; and the Nakhon Pathom to Cha-am, Phetchaburi motorway project, worth 80.6 billion, said Prapas Kong-Ied, director-general of the State Enterprise Policy Office (Sepo).

BMA agrees to offer more elevators for disabled Bangkok Post 19th May 2018
City Hall is prepared to invest 256 million baht to add 19 elevators for the disabled at 16 BTS Green Line stations, following pressure from disabled rights activists. A construction timetable is not yet finalised because there is no official budget approval from the Bangkok Metropolitan Council, deputy Bangkok governor Jakkapan Phiewngam, told the media after an inspection at the BTS Chong Nonsi station on Friday.

New Sino-Thai draft on way Bangkok Post 16th May 2018
The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) says it expects to receive a revised design for an 11-km section of the Thai-Chinese high-speed train project from China this month to ensure the bidding process takes place in July or August. Acting SRT governor Anon Lueangboriboon said the design for the Pak Chong-Kanan Jit section should be ready for consideration soon. The blueprint for this stretch was sent back to China for revision, pushing back the bidding which was expected to take place this month.

EEC Act in force after long delay Bangkok Post 15th May 2018
The much-awaited Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Act was finally published in the Royal Gazette Monday after a seven-month delay. The act should build up investor confidence in Thailand, said Suphan Mongkolsuthee, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI). "Foreign and local investors were waiting for clarity on the new law. Now that the law has been published, investors can move forward with their investment and business plans," he said.

PM assesses infrastructure projects for the Northeast The Nation 8th May 2018
After a grand reception to show their support for Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, the people of ฺBhum Jai Thai party’s stronghold in Buri Ram and other three lower northeastern provinces had their project proposals seen by the Cabinet yesterday. While Prayut’s field trip to the region has widely been seen as a political move, the premier said local authorities and politicians who proposed the projects would not get everything they wanted. Among those considered yesterday included 40 projects, worth a total of Bt1 billion, on irrigation to solve flooding and drought issues. They accounted for almost half of all proposed agricultural and water resources development projects, with a total worth of Bt3.4 billion.

Thailand to launch Mekong regional fund to reduce China dependence Nikkei Asian Review 4th Jun 2018
Thailand is taking the lead in creating a regional fund with its neighbors, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, to back infrastructure and other development projects and to lessen reliance on Chinese investment. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is expected to propose the idea to the leaders of the five countries in Thailand on June 16 at the 8th summit of the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy, or ACMECS. This regional organization was initiated by Thailand in 2003.

Vietnam

FPT Software proposes trial of self-driving autos vietnamnews.vn 16th May 2018
FPT Software has asked the Ministry of Transport and relevant sectors for permission to operate self-driving autos in hi-tech zones and software parks nationwide on an experimental basis. FPT said it had studied the self-driving technology from 2016 to October 31, 2017, before announcing the first self-driving vehicle in Việt Nam. The company had been operating trams in central Đà Nẵng City (around F-Complex, FPT Software Đà Nẵng) and self-driving cars around FPT Software HCM City.

Hà Nội to crackdown on delayed projects vietnamnews.vn 16th May 2018
The Hà Nội People’s Council has urged authorities of the two districts of Ba Vì and Hoài Đức in coordination with the city’s related agencies to intensify the inspection of long-delayed construction projects and revoke the credentials of those which are violating the Land Law. Nguyễn Ngọc Tuấn, vice chairman of the municipal People’s Council who headed an inspection team in the two districts on Thursday, said that once violations were found, they should be reported immediately to the city’s People’s Committee for withdrawal.

Lạch Huyện int’l port opens in Hải Phòng vietnamnews.vn 14th May 2018
The Lạch Huyện international port in the northern port city of Hải Phòng, which uses Japanese ODA funding, opened on Sunday (May 13), according to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The project is part of the International Port Infrastructure Construction Project through JICA. In addition, the Tân Vũ intersection (of the Hà Nội-Hải Phòng expressway, Tân Vũ-Lạch Huyện road and ring road of Hải Phòng City) is under construction and is expected to be completed within this year. Under the project, the Đình Vũ Bridge which is 5.44 km long, is the longest bridge crossing the sea in Việt Nam. It also opened to traffic last September.

Consultant proposes lower-cost plan for HCM City airport expansion vietnamnews.vn 14th May 2018
A state-owned consultancy has proposed adjustments to the expansion plan for HCM City’s Tân Sơn Nhất international airport that would result in much lower costs than one proposed by the French consultancy ADPi. ADPi’s proposal to expand Tân Sơn Nhất airport has been approved by the Prime Minister, but the government asked Airport Design and Construction Consultancy One Member Ltd Company (ADCC) to review ADPi’s plan to see if costs could be reduced, according to Nguyễn Bách Tùng, director of ADCC.

MVL to enter ride-hailing market vietnamnews.vn 12th May 2018
After Uber’s departure from Việt Nam’s ride hailing market, a newcomer named Mass Vehicle Ledger Foundation Pte. Ltd (MVLchain) has made its move to enter the country’s Grab-dominated ride industry. The Singapore-based transportation start-up plans to implement their platform MVL via blockchain technology. Speaking at an introduction conference in HCM City last week, MVLchain CEO Kay Woo stated that his company considered Việt Nam a high-potential market, and that the firm had submitted dossiers to establish their legal presence and operation as an IT firm in the country.