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Fri, January 26, 2007 : Last updated 22:27 pm (Thai local time)

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Home > Business > Saprang to chair TOT board

Saprang to chair TOT board

ICT minister says strong personality of junta assistant secretary makes him suited to the post, despite also being AOT chief

Information and Communications Technology Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom yesterday said General Saprang Kalayanamitr, assistant secretary of the Council for National Security (CNS), would be appointed chairman of the TOT board.

He said Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont had agreed with the nomination.

Sitthichai said that with a strong personality, the top military officer was suited to the post. Though Saprang is already serving as chairman of Airports of Thailand, Sitthichai said he would also find time to dedicate himself to TOT.

The ministry will submit the proposed list of new board directors and chairman for the Cabinet's approval next week.

Saprang was the first to be named as TOT chairman in the Surayud government, before he was replaced by Montree Supaporn following public criticism that the CNS had sent in too many of its men to run state agencies.

Six out of 10 board members of TOT, including Montree, resigned last week. The remainder resigned this week, citing their responsibility for the possibility that TOT may have caused the state to lose access-charge revenue.

The resignations came after the Central Administrative Court ordered TOT to enable connections between its subscribers and an additional 1.5 million phone numbers of Total Access Communication (DTAC), or consumers would be affected.

Montree, who met with TOT staff yesterday, said he understood that TOT has to compete with several rivals, including the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), which sometimes takes sides with TOT, and sometimes not.

He also criticised DTAC for filing a lawsuit against TOT in the lower court over the network-access dispute.

The dispute began recently when TOT refused to integrate 1.5 million new phone numbers from both DTAC and True Move into its network, citing their refusal to pay its access charges.

The access charge, at the heart of the dispute, is a cost against the cellular concessionaires of CAT Telecom. It covers the cost of these operators connecting their subscribers' calls to other networks via TOT's facilities. CAT's concessionaires include DTAC, True Move and Digital Phone.

DTAC intends to pay the access charge to TOT, but at an interconnection-charge rate of Bt1.25 per minute instead of the original access-charge rate of Bt8.

The interconnection charge, introduced recently by the NTC, requires all operators to share revenues from voice and data calls between their networks on a fair basis. DTAC and True Move say they want to pay only the interconnection charge, instead of paying both the access and interconnection fees.

Until now, TOT has earned about Bt14 billion per year from the access charges.

TOT president Somkual Buraminhentre said that one mistake of the Surayud government was that it had not dissolved the NTC, "which has caused trouble for the industry".

In a related matter, he said

TOT would consult with its legal unit to see whether it could claim the loss from its private telecom concessionaires' deducting part of the concession fees to be paid as excise to the government before sharing the remainder with TOT or CAT.

This was permitted under a resolution of the previous government. The current government revoked the resolution this week.

Usanee Mongkolporn

The Nation

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