The national anti-corruption board yesterday agreed to investigate the 3G spectrum auction over alleged price collusion and violation of the state procurement law.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) set up a sub-committee to probe the 11-member National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) which held an auction for nine licences for 3G services on Oct 16.
The auction has been widely criticised for being uncompetitive and generating too low revenues for the state with the total bidding value at only 2.7% above the minimum price.
The graftbusting agency's action is based mainly on a petition by the Senate committee on good governance which asked the NACC to examine if the 3G auction was designed to generate fair and genuine competition.
The investigative subcommittee is chaired by commissioners Pakdee Pothisiri and Jaided Pornchaiya. It is expected to add another member next week.
NACC spokesman Klanarong Chantik said the Senate committee was concerned about whether the uncompetitive nature of the 3G bidding and the haste in which the NBTC's telecom committee endorsed its results could be in violation of the 1999 state procurement law.
According to Mr Klanarong, the law empowers the NACC to look into the complaint.
Mr Klanarong said the subcommittee will investigate promptly once its membership is completed.
Meanwhile, the NBTC's telecom committee chairman Col Settapong Malisuwan said an internal panel has been set up to investigate if there was any price collusion as has been alleged among the three bid winners during the 3G licences auction last week.
Suvijak Nakwatcharachai, secretary to the House of Representatives, has agreed to chair the internal investigation. The panel will have 15 days to wrap up its probe.
The NBTC secretary-general Thakorn Tantasit said the telecom committee will consider whether to grant the licences to the bid winners after it receives the result of the probe, which should be by Nov 10.
If it decides to go ahead with the licensing, the operators could receive their licences within seven days of approval.
The NACC's investigation will not affect the licensing process, said Jesada Sivaraks, the NBTC vice chairman's secretary.
The 3G auction's conditions give the NBTC 90 days or until January next year to grant the licences to the winners after the auction results are approved.
Apart from the Senate committee, two other individuals petitioned the NACC to probe the 3G auction _ Green Politics group leader Suriyasai Katasila and deputy finance permanent secretary Supa Piyajitti.
The NBTC auctioned off nine, 15-year licences for 41.6 billion baht, only about 1.1 billion above the reserve price.
About the author
- Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana
Position: Senior Business Reporter