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Thailand's Senate passes bill to borrow $69.5 billion for transport projects

Thailand's Senate has approved a bill that will allow the government to borrow $69.5 billion to build high-speed train lines and other transport infrastructure over the next seven years.

The Senate on Wednesday voted 63-13 in favor of the financing plan that will authorize the Finance Ministry to seek loans worth 2.2 trillion baht from domestic and foreign sources by 2020.

The projects will include high-speed rail lines from Bangkok to four provinces as well as dual-track rail lines, roads, airports and ports.

The government has said the projects will boost Thailand's economic growth, create jobs and improve investor confidence.

Critics say the bill could reduce transparency by bypassing the annual budget process and raise public debt to unacceptably high levels.