Monday, September 20, 2010

Thailand - The govt will accelerate efforts to legislate for the 3G spectrum auction, following a case lost in court

[bangkok post] The government will step up efforts to push through the Frequency Allocation Bill, which will enable the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission to be set up and clear the way for a 3G auction early next year.

During his weekly television broadcast yesterday, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said a government whip will work to ensure the bill receives parliamentary approval so that the process to select commission members can begin by year's end or early next year.

Once in place, the commission will be responsible for holding the auction for 3G licences.

Mr Abhisit stressed the government wanted the 3G auction to take place as soon as possible and the issue would be further clarified this week.

The Central Administrative Court last week ruled that the auction must be put on hold.

The decision came after the state-owned CAT Telecom filed a petition challenging the legitimacy of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to auction off the 3G licences.

The Supreme Administrative Court will rule today on whether the temporary injunction against the distribution of the 3G frequencies should stand.

Earlier, Natee Sukonrat, NTC commissioner and head of the 3G project, submitted an appeal against the Central Administrative Court's ruling. The ruling bars the NTC from holding a 3G auction until the Constitution Court rules on its authority to distribute the frequencies or until the new regulator, the NBTC, is formed.

The auction can proceed only if the Supreme Administrative Court reverses the lower court's decision.

Meanwhile, Mr Abhisit said he has put the appointment of Mongkol Surasajja as the next permanent security for the interior on hold pending an inquiry into alleged irregularities involving the Provincial Administration Department's 3.49 billion baht computer procurement plan.

The project turned controversial when a powerful group within the ministry allegedly meddled in the bidding to favour a particular company.

On Aug 10, the cabinet endorsed the appointment of Mr Mongkol, the acting Provincial Administration Department director-general, as the next permanent secretary for the interior. Speculation was rife that he had benefited from close ties to Newin Chidchob.

Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul yesterday said he was unhappy with Mr Abhisit's decision to postpone the appointment. He said the prime minister shouldn't believe every graft allegation he hears.

Mr Chavarat said the delay in the appointment of a new permanent secretary would also postpone the appointments of provincial governors at the end of the month.

He insisted the computer procurement project was transparent and properly scrutinised.

Mr Abhisit said yesterday Mr Chavarat might not have obtained enough information about the project.

Govt rushes to clear up 3G debacle - Frequency Allocation Bill gets House priority

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