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Cabinet's caretaker role stalls TOT opportunities

TOT is worried about missing out on business opportunities because a new government is needed to endorse its participation in three major submarine-cable projects.



The state telecom enterprise has already lost the chance to join the Asia-Africa-Europe 1 (AAE-1) consortium.

"TOT can't make the first payment on the due date, so TOT had to withdraw from the project," TOT chairman Suchart Wongananchai said.

TOT had planned to inject US$5.2 million (Bt168 million) or 10 per cent of the $52-million project as a first instalment as a consortium member last month.

AAE1 is a 25,000-kilometre submarine cable stretching from Southeast Asia to Europe across Egypt, connecting Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Yemen, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Greece, Italy and France.

Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2016.

"Actually TOT had already prepared a budget to invest but we had to get approval from the Cabinet, as all state-enterprise budgets need to be approved by the Cabinet," Suchart said.

TOT also wants to invest about Bt1 billion in the Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 5 (SEA-ME-WE 5) project next month, also pending Cabinet approval.

Last year TOT's board approved Bt5.9 billion for three submarine-cable projects, the above two plus the Southeast Asia Japan Cable System, which links up to seven countries and territories in Asia.

TOT, which is a member of SJC, is planning to spend Bt2 billion on setting up the link with the SJC project. Again, it is waiting for the Cabinet's green light.


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