The Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT) has suggested the cabinet halt any debate on a plan to extend the 30-year concession of the Green Line railway for Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC) and wait for the city's next-elected governor to make a decision.
Commenting on the issue on Wednesday, ACT secretary-general Mana Nimitmongkol said it has dragged on for years and caused a long-running dispute between the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), which operates under the Interior Ministry, and the Bhumjaithai Party-led Transport Ministry.
Mr Mana suggested the cabinet wait for the next Bangkok governor to resolve the matter, given the election is not far off.
The ideal scenario would be to wait for two new ministers of the Interior and Transport ministries so all three could start with a fresh slate, he said.
"The cabinet must not rush to renew the concession," Mr Mana said.
Moreover, the issue of fixing a maximum fare on the Green Line should be resolved quickly as commuters require reasonable rates, he said.
The BTS green line began operating under ex-Bangkok governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra in 2012. He chaired a signing ceremony for a contract for the BTSC to operate railway line extensions from the On Nut-Bearing and Wong Wian Yai-Bang Wa sections from 2012-2042, and the Mo Chit-On Nut and National Stadium-Saphan Taksin sections from 2029-2042.
In 2019, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha invoked Section 44 of the interim charter to form a panel to negotiate with the BTSC, leading to the 30-year concession and stipulating the BTSC would shoulder the BMA's debt of almost 100 billion baht. The maximum fare was capped at 65 baht.
Disagreeing with Mr Mana, Siripong Angkasakulkiat, a Bhumjaithai Party MP for Sri Sa Ket, said the two ministries must follow the same regulations regardless of who leads them, and urged the ACT to probe their conduct.
On Monday, four candidates for the upcoming election opposed extending the Green Line concession and called for a lower fare cap, during an online talk organised by the Thailand Consumer Council.
They were Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn from the Move Forward Party, Suchatvee Suwansawat from the Democrat Party and two independents -- Rosana Tositrakul and Chadchart Sittipunt.