Government spokeswoman Ratchada Thanadirek said the move was in line with the government’s initiative to expand its model city project as the south lacked an industrial estate despite its large workforce.
The Bangkok Post said the SEZ project included the redevelopment of Nathap, Talingchan and Sako’s administrative systems, a water transport network, a deep-sea port, new roads, and a power plant using natural gas, biomass or other renewable energy sources.
The project, covering 2,680ha, is expected to create 100,000 jobs in six sectors.
The sectors are agricultural and light industry; heavy industry; electricity-generation with a total capacity of 3,700 megawatts; downstream industries related to port services; warehouses and distribution centres; and one-stop services and residential areas.
Ratchada said the cabinet had agreed to the land management proposal for the development of the SEZ in Narathiwat.
Under the plan, the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC) will buy 270ha involving a budget of 390 million baht.
Part of the land will be leased to the private sector.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha
said he agreed to a proposal to
upgrade the management of nine border checkpoints for the three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat to promote cross-border trade.
The plan was submitted at a joint-meeting between the cabinet and the business sector on economic and social development for the deep South.
Under the proposal floated by the SBPAC, Sungai Kolok and Bukehta checkpoints would become centres of cross-border transportation of goods between Thailand and Malaysia.
Prayut said the border checkpoints should be closed only when necessary to avoid affecting cross-border trade and transport.
He also suggested that business matching events for local and foreign business operators should be promoted.
He said road and rail development projects in the region were expected to boost tourist arrivals and the local economy in conjunction with the commercial launch of Yala International Airport scheduled for the middle of this year.
In the pipeline is a four-lane road expansion project, development of routes linking the region’s special economic zone with border checkpoints, and upgrades to two other highways.
The business community had also submitted proposals calling on the government to increase production capacity for the agricultural sector, promote the food and agricultural processing industries, stimulate trade and investments, and improve public health services and water management systems.
Prayut welcomed the proposals, while noting that it was important to strike a balance between supply and demand for farm products.
He added that a number of measures would be introduced to attract investments.