Panel mulls state telecom rejig

Panel mulls state telecom rejig

Mr Pichet says the restructuring plan is under review. SEKSAN ROJJANAMETAKUN
Mr Pichet says the restructuring plan is under review. SEKSAN ROJJANAMETAKUN

The government will reconsider plans to spin off two new infrastructure companies from TOT and CAT Telecom.

Under consideration is a joint proposal by the labour unions of TOT and CAT Telecom that a single board of directors should oversee the enterprises.

Last week, the unions submitted a proposal to the prime minister urging a merger of the boards. The plan came as the unions have resisted government efforts to split off two new infrastructure companies from TOT and CAT Telecom.

Pichet Durongkeveroj, the Digital Economy and Society (DE) Minister, said the restructuring plan is under review by a panel led by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

That move followed a directive by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to set up a panel to hammer out the organisational structure of the enterprises.

Chaired by Mr Wissanu, the panel includes state agencies such as the DE Ministry, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, the State Enterprises Policy Commission or superboard, the Comptroller-General's Department and the labour unions of TOT and CAT.

"The government is open to hearing the pros and cons of different scenarios. We need to come to a solution together," said Mr Pichet.

Previously, the cabinet approved the proposal of the DE Ministry ordering TOT and CAT to establish two companies -- the National Broadband Network (NBN) for TOT Plc, and Neutral Gateway and Data Center (NGDC) for CAT Telecom -- to create sustainable, long-term revenue. NBN and NGDC are expected to start operations by November.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak told the Bangkok Post the government understands the unions' position and is waiting for a decision to be reached by the DE Ministry and involved agencies.

"It's too early to say whether the government will turn back and cease the ongoing procedures," said Mr Somkid.

A source in the DE Ministry said if the government decides to go with another alternative, Gen Prayut would have to invoke Section 44 of the interim charter.

This would be needed to scrap the ongoing restructuring process, which was approved by the cabinet in June.

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