BMA will not default on its payments, Chadchart tells BTSC
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will pay what it owes to the Skytrain operator, but legal steps must be taken first.
This statement was made by Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt on Monday in response to video clips being played repeatedly on BTS trains and stations demanding that the BMA or the central government honour the 40 billion baht debt. The debt has been growing due to accumulated interest and fees for operating extensions.
“I affirm that the BMA has no problem paying its debts, but everything must be done in accordance with the law. Any deal that creates debt in the future must be approved by the Bangkok Council first,” Chadchart said.
He said he has not yet approved the payment because a BMA regulation states that the council must first approve all deals before they can be signed by the administration.
He said he learned that his predecessors had signed a contract hiring Skytrain operator Bangkok Transit System Corporation (BTSC) to run the trains and install systems for the second Green Line extension from Mo Chit (Chatuchak Station) to Khu Khot, and from Bearing to Samut Prakan. This contract was signed without permission from the Bangkok Council, he said.
Hence, Chadchart added that he will first find out if the council had approved the agreement before it was signed. If not, then the city council will be asked to draft a new contract and formally approve it before the BMA can legally start repaying BTSC.
“I think the BMA either sent a letter to the council last week or will do so this week,” Chadchart said.
He added that the money owed for the first extension of the Green Line was pending a Cabinet decision on whether it should be added to the concession granted to the BTSC by the now-defunct National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
The NCPO extended BTSC’s concession for the Green Line by another 30 years (2029-2059) in exchange for BTSC shouldering the money owed to it for operating the first extension.
The decision of extending the concession has yet to be re-affirmed by the Cabinet after Chadchart voiced disagreement.
He added that council approval is also required before the BMA can take over the debts and assets of the second Green Line extension for operation. The second extension was built by the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand and handed over to the BMA to operate.