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Education and transport officials seek funds

Education officials are asking the government to provide nearly US$100 million for subsidies to students from poor families, while the Ministry of Transport said last week it will request $24.5 billion over 10 years for the upgrade and building of transport infrastructure throughout the Kingdom. 
 
The funding requests came as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he wanted to expedite the disbursement of more than $3 billion from the existing 2014 government budget, and instructed all ministries to inspect their projects to find which ones had not been carried out and could make good use of the money.  He added that the government will speed up inspection of more $600 million of the budget and loan facilities that have not been used.
 
“This money will be used to invest in infrastructure in accordance with public demand, particularly for renovating schools, irrigation systems, roadways, and community medical centers.  This will also create local employment and increase spending, which will serve as another way to help stimulate the local economy,” the Prime Minister said during his weekly speech to the nation.
 
The Office of the Basic Education Commission said the money it is requesting would be used to provide subsidies directly to families earning less than $1,300 a year to ensure their children can complete the nine years of schooling that is compulsory under Thai laws.
 
"[We are] asking the government to allocate financial assistance for every poor student to ensure the opportunity to gain access to quality education,’’ said Commission secretary-general Kamol Rodklai.
 
The Commission estimates that of eight million students at primary and secondary levels, about 3.6 million are from families that earn less than $1,300 per year.  Among the 3.6 million poor students at primary and secondary levels, only 40 percent of primary level students received the existing financial subsidy of $35 per head and only 30 percent of poor secondary level students benefited from the $90 subsidy.
 
Existing financial subsidies are going to the schools, however, and not directly to the families, as the Commission would prefer.
 
The Ministry of Transport said its request for $24.5 billion over 10 years would fund the development of new rail lines, along with local roads and motorways linking different cities.
 
The Ministry’s plan for the money would focus on resolving traffic problems in large cities, better connecting the public transport system of each province with its neighbors, and creating a network of overland gateways to benefit border trade.
 
At the end of the 10-year plan, the Ministry expects to see a 2 percent reduction in logistic costs from the current 15.2 percent of gross domestic product, and a decrease in inter-city traffic by cars by nearly 20 percent from the current 60 percent.
 
See the original article at the Thailand Focus Website.

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