Thailand has agreed to return $20.3 billion in public and private debt and cash to help finance the country’s massive infrastructure project.
Thailand’s Finance Minister Nongporn Kannamutho said on Monday that Thailand would be the first nation in Southeast Asia to receive cash and bonds from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The cash and bond exchange program was originally meant to be launched in 2019, but the move to take place this year instead was made to allow the country to continue the project ahead of a 2018 deadline.
Thai President Prayuth Chan-ocha has long sought to return Thailand to growth, but it was not until a series of high-profile corruption scandals erupted that the country began to recover from the effects of the global financial crisis.
The IMF will contribute $5 billion in 2017 and 2018 and $1 billion each in 2019 and 2020.
The cash will be used to buy shares in the government’s public and privately held firms, as well as to finance a major infrastructure project that is scheduled to be completed in 2021.
The government hopes to return the money by 2019 to fund the construction of the Chao Phraya Bridge.
The move was welcomed by the IMF, which said in a statement that it was an important step toward recovering the debt and returning it to Thailand’s public sector.
The deal follows a long-running standoff between Thailand and the IMF over the countrys debt and currency.
Thaiboon Padayasak, the IMF’s deputy managing director for Southeast Asia, said in an interview that the return of the money “will be welcomed by a number of countries in the region who have been struggling with a debt crisis.”
The return of Thai government debt to its citizens was a major component of the IMFs efforts to rescue the Southeast Asian country from a severe debt crisis.