By Piyanuch Thamnukasetchai
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) yesterday urged the interior minister and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to clarify whether the BMA was authorised to award a Bt190 billion contract to the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTSC).
DSI chief Tarit Pengdith said the 58th coup announcement in 1992 authorised the Interior Minister to sign the Skytrain project with the winning bidder, Thanayong joint venture. But then interior minister, General Issarapong Noon-pakdee, seeing that the contract exceeded Bt1 billion and came under the Public-Private Joint Venture Act, tabled it for the Cabinet’s approval first and then assigned the BMA governor to supervise the Skytrain. This led to Krungthep Thanakom (KT) being established as the city’s business arm.
Tarit said the legal question was whether that authorisation was for that particular time – or for the BMA to act on the ministry’s behalf in all related activities.
The DSI has sent letters to the Interior Minister, the BMA governor, BTSC and KT to ask:
1. If the concession-approving authority belonged to the interior minister only;
2. What are the limits on the BMA governor’s power in this matter;
3. Whether it was legitimate for the BMA governor to sign a new/revised contract or concession extension without asking the Interior Minister’s permission; and
4. If the concession extension through KT was doable without the interior minister’s permission.
The interior minister was to reply by May 29 and the BMA governor by May 23, he said.
If the interior minister decided that the BMA governor was an operating official without the authority to do this, the recently signed contract would be incomplete and unauthorised. But if it were decided otherwise, related legal points would be studied to determine if this action was legitimate.
Tarit dismissed the city’s claim the Council of State’s ruling backed its action by saying the ruling didn’t relate to this matter; it was about a joint venture but this was about the authorisation to act.