Thailand serious with energy privatisation

Apr 10, 1998 02:00 AM

The Thai government is pushing ahead with the privatisation of the electricity authority. Government officials denied allegations by the employees union that selling the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand would result in higher costs to consumers.
The government has committed itself to privatisation of state-owned enterprises in exchange for the $ 17.2 million bailout of Thailand's economy led by the International Monetary Fund, officials said.
Employees have objected to the appointment of board members they say have overly close links to the private sector. The EGAT union plans a massive demonstration April 20. The authority employs 34,000 people.
The union claims not to be against privatisation, but opposes current plans to break up the authority and sell off the assets to different groups of investors.
Board member Piyasvasti Amranand said that no single investor was big enough to take over the authority and that allowing one to do so would create a private monopoly instead of a state monopoly.
Officials pledged that the sell-off of the authority would be transparent, though the unions claim that interests close to the governing Democrat Party will benefit.
The authority has 200 billion baht ($ 5 bn) in domestic and foreign debts as a result of the depreciation of the Thai currency and a commitment to repay 30 bn baht ($ 750 mm) annually, said Savit Bhotivihok, the government minister in charge of the sale.
Under the agreement with the IMF, some assets of the authority must be privatised by the end of the year. Consultants are currently devising fast-track and slow-track privatisation plans.
Other state-owned companies up for privatisation are Thai Airways International and Bangchak Petroleum Co.

Source: not available
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