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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     11-12 November  2011

US$ 485 million Asean Infrastructure Fund to start in 2012

A special purpose vehicle for the Asean Infrastructure Fund (AIF) to support infrastructure development in Southeast Asia will begin operations in Kuala Lumpur in June 2012, Second Finance Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Husni Hanadzlah said.

The SPV will have an initial equity contribution of US$485 million.

The move shows Asean's leadership in infrastructure development, and will be used as a model by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), he told reporters after the APEC finance ministers' meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii on Thursday 10 Nov 2011.

The meeting was held in preparation for the APEC summit, beginning on 12 November 2012 (Saturday) in Hawaii.

Husni said the Asian Development Bank, which will contribute US$150 million to the fund, will identify suitable infrastructure projects to be implemented in countries which have not attained a high level of infrastructure development.

These projects include roads, ports, and water and electricity supply, he said.

Malaysia has pledged US$150 million to the fund. Nine Asean member countries excluding Myanmar will contribute a total of US$485 million to the fund.

Husni said the board of the SPV will comprise a representative from each of the nine Asean countries excluding Myanmar.

Husni said APEC was informed of developments on the AIF because of the interest of the Asia Pacific grouping to develop the region's infrastructure although the idea is still under discussion.

Infrastructure development is important to enhance Asean's attractiveness as an investment destination and expand the middle class, a vital element in the growth of an economy.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

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By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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