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NEW UPDATES Asean Affairs  24 December 2014  

Additional Rp 27t sought  for projects
The Transportation Ministry has requested an additional Rp 27 trillion (US$2.17 billion) for 2015 to realize the development of railway and seaport projects in light of the government’s infrastructure push.
Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan declined to disclose details of the extra funds, but said the request was based on the ministry’s commitment to improving transportation infrastructure in border areas and enhance the country’s logistics networks.
“We have proposed an additional Rp 27 trillion,” Jonan told reporters recently. “I will disclose the details in due course.”
The Transportation Ministry had been allocated a total of Rp 44.93 trillion in the 2015 state budget before the government decided to slash fuel subsidy spending to reallocate it to more productive spending, including infrastructure.
“The ministry would allocate the largest portion of the additional money to support the railway projects, while the second largest amount would be used to support seaport projects,” the Transportation Ministry’s dredging project and port operation director Adolf Tambunan said.
The allocation for the railway directorate general amounted to Rp 14.35 trillion, almost a third of the ministry’s total allocation for 2015.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has announced government plans to launch several railway projects next year, including the long-awaited Trans-Sumatra railway that will stretch from Aceh to Lampung and incorporate the island’s existing Dutch-built line. The government will also accelerate construction of the Trans-Sulawesi railway and start the Kalimantan railway project, as well as begin conducting feasibility studies for the first line in the country’s easternmost provinces, West Papua and Papua.
The Transportation Ministry will also hand over the development of 15 seaports that had been included within the 2015 state budget to state-owned port operator companies, and reallocate the money to develop less commercially viable seaports, according to Adolf.
He said that the total budget to develop the 15 seaports, including Gunung Sitoli port in North Sumatra, Bagan Siapi-api Port in Riau and Sintete Port in West Kalimantan, reached Rp 492.5 billion.
“We will allocate the budget to develop seaports located in the country’s border areas,” Adolf said. “We want to make sure that seaports located in our border areas are not left behind those built by neighboring countries, for instance in Senyamuk [West Kalimantan], where we are planning to construct more terminals at the port,” he said.
The ministry also plans to use the additional money to lengthen the runways of eight non-commercial airports across the archipelago, to allow bigger jets to enter the country’s remote areas.
A total of Rp 1.2 trillion from the extra funds would be used to develop the eight airports, namely Rembele Airport in Aceh, Blimbingsari in East Java, Komodo Airport in East Nusa Tenggara, Tojo Una Una Airport in Central Sulawesi, Kuabang Kao Airport in North Maluku, Ibra Airport in Maluku, New Saumlaki Airport in Maluku and Dekai Airport in Papua.
Currently, these airports can only accommodate ATR-72 aircraft. Following the extension from 2,000-meter long to 2,250-meter long runways, the airports will be able to accommodate Boeing 737 aircraft.
One of Jokowi’s visions for the country during his five-year term is to improve connectivity in the country, reducing logistics costs and, in turn, making products more competitive and cheaper in the market, hence raising equality and the people’s welfare. 
His infrastructure and transportation programs are also expected to boost the country’s economic growth to beyond 7 percent before the end of his tenure in 2019.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
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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