Thailand's ICT chief wants firm state grip on TOT, CAT

21 Mar 2007

(Bangkok Post via NewsEdge) Thailand's Information and Communications Technology minister says he wants to fully restore the state-enterprise status of TOT and CAT Telecom to allow better use of their assets to serve the public.

'These two companies can become the country's backbone. Unfortunately, they were turned into private companies. I'll try to bring their state-enterprise status back,' ICT minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said at a forum.

He said had been frustrated by attempts by some people and groups to downgrade the roles of TOT and CAT to those of private operators because the state entities could use their assets to serve the public better than private operators, who were selfish and sought only profits.

'It's my personal opinion. I know that it's unlikely that the government has time to do this, as it would involve many legal reforms. And it would likely be opposed by both the private sector and others within the government,' Sitthichai said.

He said that in the remaining months of the government, the ICT Ministry would focus on reforming the existing concessions between the two state enterprises and private operators.

Sitthichai insisted that existing telecom concessions would not be revoked or scrapped because that would be unfair.

However, telecom concession terms would be revised to create fair competition under the same cost structure, he said.

He said the Council of State was considering whether concession extensions and amendments by the previous boards of TOT and CAT without seeking cabinet approval had breached the law.

If they had, then the changes would brought back the negotiating table, he said.

© 2007 Bangkok Post

© 2007 Dialog, a Thomson business. All rights reserved

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