Thai cabinet approves $25 bln infrastructure plan for 2017

BANGKOK, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Thailand’s cabinet approved on Tuesday an infrastructure action plan worth 895.8 billion baht ($25.2 billion) for 2017, as the military government ramps up investment projects to boost a sluggish economy.

The army seized power in May 2014 to end months of political unrest but has struggled to revive Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, as exports and domestic demand remain feeble.

The plan includes 36 infrastructure projects, covering rail, roads, air transport and ports throughout Thailand, Kobsak Pootrakool, vice minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, told reporters.

“The government gives priority to investment in the country’s infrastructure,” Kobsak said.

The government expects to open bids for some 15 Bangkok railway routes next year, while construction of five other projects, such as airport expansions and highway projects, should start by 2017, he said.

The projects will be financed by borrowing of 576 billion baht, with the rest from the government budget, public-private partnerships, and an infrastructure fund.

Earlier, the junta rolled-out 20 large infrastructure projects worth 1.4 trillion baht.. ($1 = 35.58 baht) (Reporting By Kitiphong Thaicharoen; Writing by Pairat Temphairojana; Editing by Robert birsel)