The board of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has agreed to call a halt to its plans for privatising the industry, after several weeks of sustained protest by union members. The agreement allows key public services such as electricity and water to remain in government hands. It has not, however, been ratified by the cabinet, and union leaders have indicated that their protest will continue until both the privatisation plan and the Corporatisation Act -–the law used for privatising state enterprises – have been scrapped.
The government has encouraged privatisation as an important element of its economic development programme, saying it will lead to improved efficiency in public services. The intense reaction of the protesters has, however, caused a change of heart in a country that goes to the polls early next year.