BANGKOK, March 19 – PTT Plc, Thailand’s state-run oil and natural gas conglomerate, has categorically ruled out attacks against its operations on social networks, charging that widespread criticism against the enterprise were politically motivated.
PTT President Pailin Chuchotttaworn, accompanied by PTT’s chief financial officer Surong Bulakul, told a press conference on Monday that the online allegations against the company were distorted, adding that the Shinawatra family’s share ownership in PTT represented only 0.002 per cent of the firm’s total 2.85 billion shares.
The family’s ownership in PTT shares has no significant meaning in relation to the company’s operations or management, he said.
He said the attacks against PTT have escalated in light of the Energy Ministry’s imminent decision to adjust prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and natural gas for vehicles (NGV).
Thailand’s LPG and NGV prices are unrealistically low and the Oil Fund currently must bear the financial burden of the Bt17 billion loss. PTT subsidised last year’s losses by Bt10 billion for LPG and Bt24 billion for NGV, he said.
“Around 300,000-400,000 vehicles run on NGV and one million others on LPG. If NGV and LPG prices remain the same, PTT’s financial burden will worsen. The state enterprise needs to make profit to make financial contributions to the government which uses them for 67 million Thai people,” he said.
He said the online criticisms failed to mention the fact that PTT’s profit was only 3.7 per cent of the Bt2.79 trillion revenue and profit from oil business was only Bt15 billion while major revenues were generated from subsidiary businesses.
Mr Pailin said PTT would not take legal action against those who distorted the fact, but affirmed that the Bt366 billion five-year investment plan for national energy stability will move on.
The government holds 67 per cent of PTT shares while the remaining units belong to more than 50,000 shareholders. PTT has generated Bt520 billion for the country in the last 11 years and delivered Bt61.284 billion in taxes and dividends to the state last year, Mr Pailin said.
Permanent secretary for energy Norkhun Sitthipong said the Energy Policy and Planning Office and the Mineral Fuels Department were instructed to release fact sheets on Thailand’s energy landscape to the media, including online media.
He ruled out Mr Pailin’s speculation that the online criticisms were related to imminent increase of LPG and NGV prices, saying the adjustment will be gradual with assistance measures for low-income consumers.