Thai senate committee grills NBTC

Don Sambandaraksa
26 Oct 2012

A Thai senator has suggested that the telecom sub-board of embattled regulator NBTC overstepped their authority in ratifying the results of the recent 3G auction.

The senate anti-corruption and good governance committee today took testimony from the NBTC.

The committee had called in the telecom sub-board of the NBTC, the three operators and the Finance Ministry’s deputy permanent secretary Supha Piyajiti - the highest ranked official to complain about the non-auction on 16th October.

Summarizing the hearing, Senator Paiboon Nititawan said that things went pretty much as he expected, Supha insisting she was right and the NBTC saying that they were right.

However, he said that he remained unconvinced that the NBTC telecom sub-board of five had the right to ratify the auction, let alone issue the licences as they plan to. According to the constitution, the frequency allocation act and the NBTC’s own notifications, that right belongs to the full 11-member NBTC board, not the sub-board.

The senator said he would be summarising these findings and forwarding it to the ombudsman soon. If the ombudsman agrees with the senate committee’s findings, they would file a lawsuit with the administrative court against the NBTC.

However, Senator Paiboon said that there was nothing preventing the full NBTC board from annulling the telecoms board decision and fixing things before it got that far.

Paiboon said that with the foreign dominance notification, there would be little point in holding a new auction as it would only be the same three companies. He instead urged the telcos and the NBTC to negotiate compromise at a higher price that would leave everyone happy.

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