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TOT ready to lead road to recovery in Thailand

01 March 1999

Thailand was adversely affected by the Asian economic crisis in 1997. To raise investment levels and restore market confidence, the Telephone Organization of Thailand (TOT), founded in 1954, is scheduled for privatization in 1999, after over 40 years as a state-owned monopoly. TOT's president Thongchai Yongchareon comments on recent developments to Mark Holmes.

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In 1995 the Thai government embarked on a privatization and liberalization programme, passing new legislation - the so-called Telecommunications Master Plan - to direct the privatization of both the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT), which handles international services, and the Telephone Organization of Thailand (TOT), the government agency responsible for domestic calls. However, implementation of the plan was repeatedly delayed. The economic crisis that swept over the country in 1997 - and led the International Monetary Fund to play a key role in the drafting of macro-economic policy - appeared to give a new impetus to liberalization in 1998.
The government has announced plans to privatize TOT. The operator needs to restructure now. In an interview with Global Telecoms Business, TOT's president Thongchai Yongchareon describes the steps that the operator is taking prior to privatization and developments in Thailand.

Thongchai believes that the operator may be partially privatized in 1999: "If...