By Erich Parpart
The finance Ministry may borrow Bt40 billion to provide temporary work for farmers during the dry season, Deputy Finance Minister Wisut Srisuphan said yesterday.
He told the press at a Stock of Exchange of Thailand seminar yesterday that the ministry was working on a short-term economic stimulus package worth around Bt40 billion to provide loans for rice farmers between March and May to help them cope with drought during that period.
He did not indicate the source of these funds but said the minister of finance, Sommai Phasee, was considering the proposal and the options for its financing.
“This short-term economic stimulus package will be introduced to the Cabinet shortly after the ministry and finance minister have considered the project and its source of funding,” he said.
On a separate issue, Wisut said the tax privileges for long-term equity funds (LTFs) might not be cancelled after their expiration date at the end of 2016 but the regulations would be changed to plug loopholes. Limiting the tax-deduction amount is also under consideration.
Meanwhile, the SET sees foreign firms within Asean, including the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), starting to raise capital here next year.
“Foreign firms will benefit from listing with the SET in terms of stock value, price-to-earnings ratio and the volume of liquidity within the Thai market, which are all interesting aspects,” SET president Kesara Manchusree said yesterday.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to finalise the regulations allowing listing by foreign firms this quarter.
“The SEC will allow foreign firms and infrastructure funds to list directly on Thailand’s board by the end of the first quarter of this year,” she told a seminar on “Thailand: Asean’s Gateway to GMS” arranged by the SET and Maybank Kim Eng Securities (Thailand).
The SET will continue encouraging foreign firms to raise funds on the equities market via a holding company to bulk up the capital market.
It will help foreign firms become more familiar with the country and the index before they make the decision to enter the stock market directly once the new regulations come into play.
“Thai subsidiaries operating in neighbouring countries are expected to come and list on the SET by the second half of this year after the new regulations are implemented.
“But we expect direct listings from foreign firms and infrastructure funds in 2016 since they need time for preparation, especially GMS firms.
“They will probably begin the filing process by the end of this year and begin to be listed by next year,” Kesara said.
Thai businesses with operations, investments or branches within the GMS account for 26 per cent or Bt3.6 trillion of the SET’s Bt14.85 trillion market capitalisation.
SET chairman Sathit Limpongpan said the move towards an integrated regional market and Thailand’s capital market expansion into the GMS started with well-established trade between Thailand and the CLMV countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
About 8 per cent of merchandise exports are to CLMV countries, which is almost equal to exports to the European Union, which accounted for 9.5 per cent of total exports worth US$18.57 billion (Bt605 billion) in November.
A few CLMV firms have already ventured into the SET via holding companies.
“The SET will expand and become more interesting for investors via this development since investors, foreign and domestic, will have more choices to invest through investment with pure Thai firms or a holding company that has co-investment between Thai and CLMV firms or Thai and Chinese firms,” he said.
Montree Sornpaisar, co-chief executive officer of Maybank Kim Eng Securities (Thailand), said foreign investors were already interested in the SET and if it could become a proxy for investment within the GMS, the appeal of Thailand’s capital market would increase.