Ministry of Finance looking to sell shares in state enterprises

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BANGKOK, 26 May 2015  – The Ministry of Finance is expecting to take two months to issue a special law that will allow it to sell shares in subsidiaries of state enterprises to raise money to pay off the massive debt incurred from rice mortgaging.

Finance Minister Sommai Phasee explained that of the roughly 720 billion baht of debts, some 520 billion baht was incurred from the rice mortgage scheme. The remaining portion was incurred from the operations of the State Railway of Thailand, the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority and the Social Security Fund. The bill to be issued will help the government shave off some of the debt burden. The minister noted that the Ministry of Finance will sell shares in a way that has minimal effect on the stock market, and emphasis will be placed on ill-performing subsidiaries of state enterprises that have been causing losses to the state.

According to the minister, the bill will be prepared in two months and then submitted to the Cabinet for approval, after which it will be forwarded to the National Legislative Assembly. The government currently has to set aside 64 billion baht each year to service its debt. For fiscal year 2016, the government is setting aside 61 billion baht for repayment of principals.