Energy public hearing starts at Government House

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BANGKOK Feb 20 – A public hearing on Thailand’s controversial oil and gas exploration concession bidding, hosted by the government, began at Government House early Friday attended by state and civil society representatives, and those involved in the intended bidding process.

Deputy Government Spokesman Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd told journalists that the public forum on the upcoming 21st round of bidding, now being telecast live, was to consider nine or ten issues in discussion.

After speaking with those opposing the bidding, government sponsors decided that only two questions would be discussed at the forum.

The two questions to be raised are whether there are still loopholes in the current law if the government moves forward in holding the 21st round of oil and gas exploration concession bids or whether there are supplementary laws related to the planned bidding which would not pose any negative effect on the national energy landscape, Gen Sansern said.

The second question focuses on how to manage negative effects, if they occurred, after the bidding process.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has expressed concern and wants the problem to be resolved. He assigned Minister attached to the Prime Minister’s Office Panadda Diskul to gather inflormation from the public forum.

Each party attending the forum would have four representatives.

On the government side, it has Energy Minister Narongchai Akrasanee, Deputy Permanent Secretary for Energy Kurujit Nakornthap, Manoon Siriwan, a member of the National Reform Council, and Banyong Pongpanich, a member of the State Enterprise Policy Commission.

Opposition to the bidding procedures were comprised of representatives of civil society groups including former finance minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala and former House speaker Arthit Urairat.

Former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva also attended.