Shed light on BTSC deal

Shed light on BTSC deal

Contracts pertaining to the operation of Bangkok's Green Line electric train network are complicated yet critical for a decision to determine fair rates along routes.

The new Bangkok governor, Chadchart Sittipunt, wants the contracts to be disclosed to the public. Unfortunately, there is a legal obstacle as some parts are restricted by a non-disclosure agreement.

Tongthong Chandransu, new chairman of Krungthep Thanakom (KT), the BMA's investment arm, which signed the initial deal with Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC), the concession holder for the line's train operation, said the BMA in its capacity as major shareholder of KT holds the right to see the deal's details, but whether the BMA can disclose the contract to the public is doubtful.

He admitted the contracts for this concession project are complicated.

Mr Tongthong plans to hold talks with the BTSC this month over the contract details and the outstanding debt the BMA owes the private operator.

The BTSC would be asked if it agrees to the BMA's intention to disclose the deal to the public.

The BMA has incurred debt exceeding 100 billion baht so far from its investment in the Green Line.

Of that, about 40 billion baht is debt the BMA owes BTSC incurred from the BMA's hiring of the BTSC for the operation and maintenance of the Green Line extension sections -- Taksin Bridge–Bang-Wa; On Nut–Bearing; Bearing–Samut Prakan; and Mo Chit–Khu Khot. The BTSC has taken the case to court, demanding payment from the BMA.

The BTSC has held the concession of the Green Line's original sections -- Mo Chit–On Nut and National Stadium–Taksin Bridge. The concession will expire in 2029. The BMA under former governor Aswin Kwanmuang and the Interior Ministry had agreed to extend the concession for another 30 years in exchange for the maximum fare not exceeding 65 baht along the entire route.

But the Transport Ministry raised objections against the BMA's proposal, demanding a cheaper price.

Mr Chadchart also disagreed with the proposed fare and believes it could be much lower. However, many more details need to be discussed with the concessionaire.

The Green Line is a public infrastructure project financed with taxpayers' money and its fares directly affect people's pockets. As a result, its contracts should not be concealed.

On Thursday, the Central Administrative Court ruled in favour of the BTSC in a dispute over the cancellation of the bidding early last year for a new section of the Orange Line, Bang Khun Non–Min Buri.

The legal dispute came after the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand's announcement on Feb 3 last year that it was cancelling the bid, which the court ruled unlawful.

Surapong Laoha-Unya, CEO of BTSC, said "justice is done". He said he doesn't know if his company will finally win this bidding but he wants it to have "transparency, fairness and accountability".

This shows the company's respect for good governance and transparency.

So, good governance should be applied to the Green Line project, of which the company is a concessionaire.

The company should not have any problem if the Bangkok governor plans to disclose the Green Line contract's details to the public.

The disclosure would bring about transparency, fairness and accountability in the project and the company.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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