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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 March, 2004, 16:11 GMT
Thailand halts key privatisation
By Kylie Morris
BBC correspondent in Bangkok

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
Mr Thaksin has accepted blame for the rush to privatise
Plans by the Thai Government to privatise the country's electricity authority have been put on hold.

The initial public offering, scheduled for May, has been postponed indefinitely and no new deadline will be set, the Thai energy minister says .

The move follows a week of protests by state workers.

The aim to privatise Thailand's largest state enterprise was key to the economic agenda of the governing party after it won power in 2001.

Things are not turning out quite as the Thai government planned.

Its aims have met with strong protests from state workers who demanded a public referendum on whether or not the utility should be sold.

Now Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has accepted blame for the rush to privatise, conceding that inadequate explanation to the public caused misunderstandings.

His energy minister went one step further, announcing the sell-off would be indefinitely postponed.


Disagreement over the privatisation was blamed in part for falls on the Thai stock market in the past week.

The government expressed the wish that investors would understand.

The prime minister had accused the media of prejudice against the privatisation drive, which he argued would have streamlined the electricity authority's operations, boosted transparency and reduced public debt.

It is the second apparent back-down by the government in as many weeks.

It was forced to water down a move to impose early closing hours on bars and nightclubs after proprietors warned the ruling would be disastrous for tourism, on which Thailand relies so heavily.

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