IP project holding up TOT chief's appointment
The contract for the new TOT president is in a longer-than-usual delay amid a tug-of-war for the approval of a nationwide internet protocol (IP) bandwidth expansion project worth 431 million baht.
An official at the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry said the Finance Ministry had not yet signed the contract to employ Varut Suvakorn as the new TOT president.
The TOT board decided to hire Mr Varut and submitted a request for approval to the Finance Ministry on July 28. The board on Aug 18 sought an additional clarification from the ministry for the delay in approving the appointment, but has yet to receive a response.
The delay is putting the Finance Ministry and the TOT on the verge of violating the law, as state enterprises are legally required to appoint a new executive within one year after the post is vacated. The TOT presidency has been vacant since Aug 18, 2007.
One telecom official said the delay in the appointment was purely politically motivated and tied up with the IP bandwidth project by senior politicians at the ICT ministry.
Mr Varut has reportedly already been asked to approve the 431-million-baht TOT Provincial Ring Upgrade Project by Petcharavuth Technology Co.
Many senior TOT executives are reportedly ambivalent about the upgrade project, viewing it as duplicating investment already committed in the IP Core Project, a nationwide network investment approved by the cabinet and the National Economic and Social Development Board and currently under way.
Petcharavuth Technology has justified the TOT Provincial Ring Upgrade Project as necessary to alleviate traffic congestion in the IP network. Of the 431 million baht in funds, 56 million will go to repeater systems, 350 million for router equipment and 25 million for interface cards.
But TOT officials privately said the state enterprise had already spent 81 million baht to help ease traffic jams in the IP network through purchases of new repeaters and interface cards as a temporary solution until the IP Core Project was completed.