Finance ministry objection to 3G auction lodged

22 Oct 2012

Thailand’s deputy permanent secretary for finance, Supa Piyajitti, has confirmed she has filed a petition with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) opposing last week’s 2100MHz mobile licence auction in which Thai cellcos AIS, DTAC and True were awarded concessions for a total price of less than 3% above the minimum bidding level set by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). As reported by the Bangkok Post, the objection has been lodged ‘to protect the public interest’, as Ms Supa – who is also chairwoman of the e-auction committee – stated that the auction could be deemed a violation of collusion laws, adding that a new 3G auction should be held in a more transparent manner to set a precedent for future licensing. She claimed the process violated the government’s e-auction rules, failed to generate real competition and may have contravened the 1999 State Bidding Act. The NBTC’s telecom committee countered that the 3G auction was conducted under the Frequency Allocation law (under which the regulator itself was established following a previous failed 2100MHz auction in 2010) – and not a PM’s Office regulation regarding electronic auctions, and that the NBTC was fully authorised to manage frequency allocation.