World Bank Partners with Five Cities in Thailand on Urban Infrastructure Financing
BANGKOK – The President of Khon Kaen University, Prof. Charnchai Panthongviriyakul, and the World Bank Country Manager for Thailand, Birgit Hansl, launched a new partnership today to assess ways of mobilizing finance for urban infrastructure in five cities – Khon Kaen, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Rayong and Nakhon Sawan.
“This partnership with the World Bank marks an important milestone for the university on the urban infrastructure development agenda in Thailand. Together with Chiang Mai University, Prince of Songkhla University, Burapha University, and Thammasat University, this assessment aims to generate knowledge, build capacity and attract municipal finance and public-private-partnership investments for Khon Kaen and the other target cities,” said Prof. Charnchai, on the signing of the agreement.
The initiative will create a knowledge exchange platform between the World Bank, Thai researchers, key public and private institutions, as well as officials from the five cities on urban infrastructure financing. The support will involve city-focused engagement and benchmarking against global practices and market consultations with international investors to identify issues, constraints, and solutions.
“There is a system of cities outside the Bangkok metropolitan area that is providing new opportunities for local populations,” said Dr. Hansl. ”We hope that this partnership will provide the cities with solutions to better manage their urban development pathways.”
By 2050, 67 percent of the world’s population is expected to reside in urban areas. By mid-century, the urban population of Asia is likely to increase by 61 percent. Well managed urban development and infrastructure investments could give rise to cities which are more conducive to economic growth and social inclusion, and be more environmentally sustainable and resilient to climate change.
“Funding and capacity limitations curtail opportunities for cities to develop appropriate infrastructure and livable cities,” said Dr. Poon Thingburanathum, Deputy Director of Corporate Planning at the Program Management Unit on Area-based Development. “We hope that this partnership with the World Bank will help address the limitations and improve people’s quality of life.”
This technical assistance program will be financed by the Program Management Unit on Area-based Development using the World Bank’s Reimbursable Advisory Services (RAS). Under RAS programs, the World Bank works with middle and high-income countries at their request, providing advisory services, analytical services, and implementation support.
The World Bank has been a partner to Thailand for over 70 years. In the early years, the international institution’s direct financial assistance to Thai development concentrated on the building of basic infrastructure – roads, dams, irrigation works, electricity infrastructure, rail transport and port facilities – all of which helped to boost production and commercial activity in the country. Today, Thailand has emerged as a dynamic middle-income country, where the relationship has benefited from not only financing, but also from advisory and analytical services of the World Bank Group.