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Thailand’s public-private partnership reforms

In April 2013, the Act Governing Private Sector Participation in or Operation of State Activities (2013) was published. The Act supersedes the 1992 version, which presented several issues for parties wishing to enter joint investment contracts with state-owned enterprises. These issues include an unclear and overlapping authority of several government regulators, with the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) refusing to play a significant role, and substantial delays and increased costs in project approval, with no clear definition of what constitutes a state-owned enterprise. In addition, the old Act does not provide for contract renewals or amendments, or the scope of discretion for project approval.

The new Act generally follows the same pattern set out in the 1992 Act, such as project submission, implementation, and supervision and follow-up, but clarifies the roles of the project-owning agency and the responsible ministry, reduces the involvement of the NESDB, and calls for the creation of a strategic plan on which project approval decisions must be based. It also includes processes for amending and renewing contracts.

In August 2013, seven members were appointed to the Committee on Policy Participation in Investment in State Activities. The Committee will be responsible for approving project submissions, deciding on the use of the tendering method of selection, ruling on disputes regarding the enforcement of the Act, and drafting notifications, reports, and the strategic plan.

As of September 2013, no public-private partnership (PPP) project has been initiated under the new Act. Ministerial regulations and notifications should be issued by October 1 2013.

The strategic plan is being drafted, and is expected to be announced within 2013. Once announced, the plan will be valid for five years.

The State Enterprise Policy Office of the Ministry of Finance is responsible for the administration of the new Act.

Albert T Chandler

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