In victory for Bhumjaithai, Cabinet defers decision on Skytrain concession
The Cabinet on Tuesday asked the Interior Ministry to reconsider its plan to extend the concession for the BTS Skytrain for 30 more years after seven Bhumjaithai ministers staged a no-show protest.
All the seven Bhumjaithai ministers, including party leader Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, and Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob stayed away from the weekly meeting.
A source said the Cabinet simply acknowledged the results of the negotiations between the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the operator Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC) over the BTS Skytrain electric train.
The Cabinet asked the Interior Ministry, which supervises the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) — the owner of the project — to take back its proposal and review it by taking into account suggestions from the Bhumjaithai, Deputy Commerce Minister Sinit Lertkrai said.
The Interior Ministry had sought the Cabinet’s approval to extend the concession by 30 years from 2029 to 2059 in exchange for the BTSC committing to fix the maximum fare at Bt65.
Bhumjaithai, which is in charge of the Transport Ministry, is opposed to fixing the maximum fare at Bt65 and the 30-year concession extension for the BTSC. The coalition partner had proposed that the maximum fare be sharply reduced so that low-income commuters can use the electric train service.
Sinit said the Cabinet has asked government agencies concerned with the electric train route to provide more details for consideration later.
Before the weekly Cabinet meeting started, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan had told reporters that he did not expect the Cabinet to consider the matter this week.