As a result of the Supreme Administrative Court's upholding of the injunction this week, these projects would be further delayed by at least another 6-12 months. The entrepreneurs are known to be increasingly restless as they wait for the government's damage-control action.
Building-contractors and their counter-parties as well as financial institutions are all hit by the suspension. In addition, some companies had entered into contracts with clients to supply products at a future date, but they would not be able to do so due to construction delays of these projects.
"We'll have to file lawsuits against the government and related agencies to seek compensation, because the consequences are far-reaching," said a source in the reeling industrial sector.
"Even though foreign investors from Japan or Taiwan, who are partners or major investors in many of the suspended projects, are still waiting for government solutions, they have already started to look elsewhere for future projects. If the Map Tha Put crisis is not resolved in due time, foreign investors will have less interest in Thailand," he said.
Bangkok-based diplomatic sources also expressed worries about the Map Tha Put crisis, suggesting some foreign investors are consulting their lawyers to consider legal action against Thai government agencies, which issued them investment licences and building permits in the areas.
In their opinion, these companies are not at fault as they followed Thai laws and regulations, but they are now suffering from the suspension of projects. They feel that they are victims of state incompetence as the responsibility to comply with constitutional rules on human rights and environment protection lie first with the government.
Legal action against the government may, ironically, have to be taken through the Administrative Court, which had issued the injunction against the projects to force compliance with constitutional rules.
Construction of several projects are at an advanced stage so a court injunction has caused financial and other damage.
An Industry Ministry source said the government at present has no authority to revoke licences and building permits because the 65 projects have not done anything wrong legally.
"If we do revoke their licences and permits, we could be sued by the private sector," said the source.
At their meeting yesterday, the affected companies called on every party to minimise the country's loss by allowing 65 suspended projects to move forward until health impact assessment (HIA) and environmental impact assessment (EIA) are completed.
About 20 representatives attended the meeting for serious discussions lasting two hours at the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) yesterday in order to seek a compromise solution to ease the impact on them.
"This is the way to minimise the loss for every party. Once the HIA and EIA are completed, we are willing to stop the projects that do not meet the criteria of HIA and EIA," said FTI's vice chairman Payungsak Chartsutipol.
"We would like the government agencies to clarify the criteria of activities that impact seriously on local community as soon as possible. However, we estimate that it will take at least 14 months to complete the HIA, which is too long for us if our projects are stopped," he said.
In addition, they expressed concern about the country's shortage of specialists in HIA, which can result in a slow process to approve HIA for 65 projects.
Regarding the suspended 65 projects, they estimated that the court's order would impact on investments worth Bt230 billion to Bt250 billion and they would lose revenue of Bt260 billion per year.
Payungsak added that it would also affect the employment of some 37,200 workers constructing those projects as well as nearly 10,000 employees when the projects are completed.
Of 65 projects, 8 projects had received the EIA before the current Constitution was implemented. In this case, Payungsak said each project's owner would ask for the court's consideration again and hope that the court would consider the "licence" word in the Administrative Court's verdict as the EIA.
PTT Aromatics and Refining CEO Chainoi Puankosoom, a member of the four-party committee, said that if the court considers the licence as EIA, PTT would be able to continue 10 projects. Of that, seven projects are in the list of 11 projects and the remaining three projects are approved by the EIA before the promulgation of the new Constitution.
However, one of the big concerns for them is the confidence of both Thai and foreign investors that can slow down investment in Thailand for at least two years.
Moreover, he said that most of the suspended companies could face suits from their shareholders, partners, and banks if the projects are really suspended.
"If they lose what they should have, they have their rights to sue us. In that case, we have to reconsider what we can do," he said.
Meanwhile, Japan's Ambassador Kyoji Komachi met Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu yesterday to hear the government's plan to tackle the crisis.
"I explained to the envoy what the government is doing and planning to do. We need full cooperation from the private sector in this process in order to minimise the damage," said Korbsak, who added that he didn't think there will be lawsuits against the government from the private sector.