THE CABINET yesterday acknowledged the Supreme Administrative Court’s final ruling ordering Expressway Authority of Thailand (Exat) to pay compensation worth Bt1.8 billion plus interest – or about Bt4 billion in total – to Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc’s subsidiary Northern Expressway Plc (NECL), according to the transport minister.
Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, transport minister, said “the Cabinet meeting [yesterday] acknowledged on the court’s ruling and assigned Exat to consider the proper method to proceed with the matter (of the compensation payment). Exat has to make a conclusion. Now, it could not be determined how much the government will help (compensating Exat for the payment).”
Reportedly, Exat’s compensation to NECL came after the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the construction and operation of Exat’s Don Mueang Tollway in the section of National Memorial-Rangsit has led to competition and impacts, which NECL claimed to be a conflict of interest with its Bang Pa-in-Pak Kret Expressway. As a result, NECL failed to make sufficient revenue under the expressway agreement. Thus, the expressway operation is non-competitive.
Surong Bulakul, executive chairman of Exat, said earlier that the authority had considered the compensation process, which could be one of gradual payment, reduction of contribution to the government or negotiation with the concessionaire for conditions with the least impact to Exat and Thai people. The lowest-cost process will be selected, he said.
If Exat pays compensation plus interest worth about Bt4 billion to NECL, the authority’s financial status will not be affected as it is a state enterprise with high liquidity and profit, he said. Exat earns about Bt70 billion per day in toll-based revenue and the number of cars using the expressway service tend to rise continuously, he added.
Exat’s labour union has requested the current government to help compensate the payment, while wanting the previous government that took office in 2007 and related parties associated with the then-approval of the tollway construction to be responsible for the damages.