TOT ordered to give AIS legal notice of Bt72-bn damages claim
INFORMATION and Communications Technology Minister Uttama Savanayana yesterday ordered TOT to give legal notice to its concession holder Advanced Info Service (AIS) that it will claim damages of around Bt72 billion from two of the company's concession am
The minister called a meeting with TOT executives yesterday to see if the state agency had made any progress on the damages claim. The notice must be sent to AIS before the concession expires tomorrow.
Uttama said TOT reported to him that the Office of the Attorney-General had set up a working team to help TOT file the damages claim.
The ICT Ministry’s legal team has advised Uttama that TOT should formally present this legal notice to AIS as a way to protect the state telecom agency’s rights before the concession expires.
The claim will cover only the sixth and seventh concession amendments, which allegedly cost TOT Bt61.28 billion and Bt10.75 billion, respectively. The figures are based on TOT’s calculation from 2001 to June 2015.
TOT granted a 25-year concession of the 900-megahertz spectrum to AIS in 1990. The sixth amendment took place in May 2001 during the Thaksin Shinawatra administration when TOT lowered the concession fee for AIS’s prepaid service from 25-35 per cent to a flat 20 per cent until the end of the concession.
Under the seventh amendment in 2002, TOT allowed AIS to deduct the roaming fees paid to its subsidiary Digital Phone Co from the calculation of the AIS concession fee.
These two cases were cited by the Supreme Court in its 2010 ruling finding Thaksin guilty of abuse of power. AIS was founded by the Shinawatras.
AIS has insisted that it has fully complied with the terms of its agreement with TOT and that the concession amendments were in compliance with the law, following similar practices as other private operators contracted with state agencies.
The Cabinet recently gave approval for the ICT Ministry to urge TOT to proceed with the AIS case according to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Thaksin |case.
Recently, the TOT board also told its management to ask the Office of the Attorney-General to help it file a lawsuit before the end of the month against two of the state agency’s former top officials who were alleged by the National Anti-Corruption Commission of being involved in these two concession amendments with AIS.
Uttama also ordered TOT to prepare to handle the network asset under the concession after the concession end.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission will reclaim TOT’s bandwidth on 900MHz for reallocation via auction.
According to NBTC rules protecting AIS consumers after the concession ends, AIS will be allowed to take care of customers remaining on the 900MHz network until the 900MHz licence auction is over.
As of the second quarter, AIS had around 40.1 million subscribers, nearly all of whom are now on its 2.1-gigahertz network.