By SOMLUCK SRIMALEE
Apichat Todilokvech, director-general of the Community Development Department of the Interior Ministry said after the September 8 opening ceremony for Batik Week that the Cabinet two months ago approved that the Council of State revise the Social Enterprises Act. The NLA will then review the proposed changes.
The proposed changes would exempt social enterprises from the 30 per cent corporate income tax and allow a tax refund for 100 per cent of investments in social enterprises.
That should encourage all firms to expand their investment in social enterprises, Apichat said.
And this, in turn, would increase wages for lower-income people in the communities with social enterprises, and reduce the number of poor people in the nation, he said.
Some 20 social enterprises are now registered with the Community Development Department and another 56 have applied for registration.
One social enterprise registered with the department is Pracharatch Rak Samakkee Social Enterprise Phuket. The company last year won the Asean Social Enterprise Award for its leadership in rural development and poverty eradication. Overseen by the Asean Secretarial Office, this year’s ceremony will be held in Malaysia this October.
Pracharatch Rak Samakkee’s managing director, Wirachai Pranveerapaibool, pointed to the social enterprise’s success increasing incomes in 30 communities in Phuket and neighbouring provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwas since its start in March 2016.
About 400 people are involved in the enterprise through three business areas: pineapple farming operations in Phuket covering some 2,000 rai (320 hectares), lobster farming in Phuket, and batik products in Phuket, Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwas.
“We cannot estimate the sales value of all of people’s earnings in our 30 communities,” Wirachai said. “But we know that when we held our event to promote their products, sales were about Bt400,000 for batik, Bt300,000 for pineapple, and Bt4.5 million for lobster last year. After the event, their sales might be up over 300 per cent.”
With such strong growth in sales for its members, the social enterprise itself generated total revenue of Bt300,000 over the last year. Some money came from community donations to the enterprises and other revenue from donation by big corporates in the provinces. The enterprise expects total revenues of up to Bt500,000 this year, reflecting increased sales of products by community members and donations to the enterprise, Wirachai said.
Pracharatch Rak Samakkee Social Enterprise now has paid-up capital of Bt2.7 million from its registered capital of Bt4 million, which is 25 per cent held by Thai Beverage Plc, and the remainder by provincial firms and community enterprises in Phuket.
Following its initial success in its first year of life, the enterprise plans to increase its number of members by expanding business training within communities under the OTOP Junior concept, targeting schools and unemployed people in the province for the rest of this year and next.
The expansion in targeting the unemployed is intended to improve income for poor people, while also reducing the costs of government subsidies to low-income people over the long-term, Wirachai said.
“We also share our business model with other provinces and others firms, because this is the way to improve the country’s society in the long term.”