Thailand: Decision soon on PPP duty-free issue

A legal subcommittee under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) committee is expected to decide whether the bidding process for¬ the duty-free shop concession falls under the newly amended PPP Act by the end of this month.¬
If the subcommittee finds that duty-free shop bidding must be done under the act, the terms of reference must comply with Section 6 of the law, which stipulates that the¬ bidding must be done in a transparent manner and can be inspected, said Prapas Kong-ied, director-general of the State Enterprise Policy Office.¬
The new PPP law, which came into effect on March 10, requires that the chairmen of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Thai Industries and the Thai¬ Bankers’ Association be included as members of the PPP committee.¬
Regulations and mechanisms relating to the bidding process are also required to be made more concise, transparent and inclusive.¬
Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) earlier decided to bid without waiting for a ruling from the PPP committee, saying its bid does not fall under the act.¬
Bidding was stalled later after doubts over concessions granted to a single winner to run duty-free shops at Suvarnabhumi, Phuket, Hat Yai and Chiang Mai airports.¬
To end fears of a monopoly and ease pressure after critics complained about the single-concession policy, the AoT decided to split the bidding into two contracts: one for¬ Suvarnabhumi and the other for the remaining three airports in Chiang Mai, Phuket and Hat Yai.¬
According to Section 7 of the PPP Act, a project considered to be basic infrastructure, a public service or a related business must comply with the act.¬
Bracket 3 of Section 7 stipulates that airport and aviation businesses fall under the act, but it does not address whether duty-free business is an ongoing business of airports.