Thailand moves on telecom conflicts of interest

Don Sambandaraksa
03 May 2011
00:00
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Almost five years have passed since Thailand had a military coup which threw out Prime Minister cum Telecoms tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra and it has taken that long and a succession of ICT Ministers to finally sort out the mess of conflicts of interest and alleged corruption that was left during his reign.

Nary a week after CAT, DTAC and True got tangled in a series of lawsuits, the ICT Ministry will be initiating legal action against Singapore-owned AIS and Shin Satellite, if leaked reports in the Nation’s Thai-language Bangkok Biz News prove reliable.

ICT Minister Chuti Krairiksh will present the penultimate Meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers with a report and to order the further investigation and prosecution of politicians, official, individuals and of course Shin Satellite and AIS.

On 25 February, the MICT set up an internal committee headed by a Counter Corruption Commissioner Ampol Wongsiri focusing on six areas: the Cabinet resolution allowing telcos to subtract excise tax from the revenue share calculations; reduction of prepaid revenue share to 20 percent (instead of increasing gradually to 30 percent along with postpaid); amendments to contract that allow for roaming profit rather than revenue to be calculated in revenue share; investment promotion for the ThaiCom satellites (export promotion privileges for a project that was supposed to be focused on the domestic market); reduction of shareholding of Shin Corporation in Thaicom to 40% (the contract said it was to be maintained at no less than 51%); and the direct payment of $6.7 million insurance to Shinsat (rather than to the concession holder as per the contract) for the failure of ThaiCom 3.

A long number of politicians, civil servants, CAT and TOT board members and officials were individually singled out for their actions in the cases. However, only AIS and Shin Satellite were named in the private sector.

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