City Hall rejects Green Line debt payment

City Hall rejects Green Line debt payment

The Green Line extension of the BTS skytrain. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
The Green Line extension of the BTS skytrain. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

City Hall has shot down a proposal seeking to disburse nine billion baht of its budget to settle part of the debts incurred by Green Line electric train operations.

The proposal, by Bangkok deputy governor Pol Lt Gen Sophon Pisuthiwong, was deliberated by the Bangkok City Council which subsequently rejected it.

A 9.2 billion baht fund was sought to pay for outstanding debts owed for operating trains and maintenance of the Green Line's On Nut-Bearing, Taksin Bridge-Bang Wah, the Bearing-Samut Prakan and Mor Chit-Saphan Mai-Khu Kot sections.

Thawatchai Fak-angkul, a Bangkok council member and chairman of the council's finance and budget committee, objected to the proposal. The payment, if approved, would almost deplete City Hall's cash reserve, he insisted.

City Hall simply could not afford such an outlay as it has suffered a drop in revenue from the previous year.

Mr Thawatchai said City Hall has so far diverted a lot of its cash reserve to finance urgent projects and it would have to pay a great deal more money in the future to pay off Green Line debts estimated to amount to over 100 billion baht.

He suggested the government co-invest with City Hall in the Green Line. Alternatively, the debt may be converted into an extended concession to operate the line.

If both options do not work, he said the Green Line should revert to its original owner, the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand.

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