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Joint business lobby proposes eight steps for SMEs, economic stimulus

Feb 19. 2015
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By ERICH PARPART
THE NATION

SIX BUSINESS organisations have jointly proposed that the government consider eight urgent measures to support small and medium-sized enterprises and stimulate the economy - including lowering the corporate tax for SMEs and the introduction of a multiple-
Federation of Thai Industries chairman Supant Mongkolsuthree said after a meeting of the Joint Public-Private Consultative Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday that the proposed measures included the exemption of back taxes for SMEs whose revenue was less than Bt200 million per year.
Supant said the measure included lowering the corporate tax rate for those SMEs over the next three years to encourage more business operators to register within the tax system.
He said SMEs with revenue of less than Bt200 million annually and a profit of less than Bt5 million should pay a tax rate of no more than 5 per cent. SMEs that make less than Bt200 million annually with a profit of less than Bt10 million should pay no more than 10 per cent, while those with a profit of less than Bt20 million should pay no more than 15 per cent.
The current corporate tax rate for all operators is 20 per cent. 
“The condition for SME to gain the exemption in back taxes is to register with the Revenue Department,” Supant said. “The lost tax income would be minimal, since the current effectiveness of tax collection from SMEs is already poor and the government would also gain via the collection of value-added tax from these newly registered SMEs.
“Around 60-70 per cent of SMEs do not pay proper taxes, and these measures would help with this aspect while allowing more medium-size businesses to registered within the capital markets, since they would not have to worry about back taxes,” he added.
The second proposal is the introduction of a government policy loan to help SMEs gain access to soft loans with special interest rates from state banks.
The business lobby has also proposed setting up a joint committee consisting of Finance, Commerce, Interior, and Industry Ministry representatives.
It has also proposed that the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion and the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking oversee the implementation of the measures within a month. 
The third proposal is for the introduction of a multiple-entry visa for tourists and a visa exemption for visitors who have gained a visa to enter the United States, the euro zone, Britain, Japan or Australia.
“The proposed measures to stimulate the tourism industry this year are expected to generate around Bt12 billion from the expected increase of around 300,000 visitors … the prime minister agrees with the idea and he has instructed relevant agencies to look into its possibility and the relevant security issues,” said Ittirith Kinglake, president the Tourism Council of Thailand. 
The fourth measure would involve removing the excise tax on air-conditioners rated at less than 72,000 British thermal units that are used within households.
This measure has been proposed because air-conditioners are now regarded as an essential appliance and the Finance Ministry has agreed to revise the tax regulation on them before submitting it to the National Legislative Assembly next quarter.
The FTI-proposed fifth measure involves improving the conditions of state laboratories used for quality control in the export sector, along with improving regulations to control the dumping of wastewater at factories by setting up a government one-stop service to improve the effectiveness of the implementation process.
The sixth and seventh measures were proposed by the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
In a bid to help farmers in the Northeast, TCC chairman Isara Vongkusolkit said one proposal centred on increasing the priority the government gave to biomass energy and the amount of such energy it bought and consumed. The Energy Ministry has agreed to consider the proposal, he said. 
The TCC has also urged the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives and related agencies to realise four strategies to support the production of corn used to feed domesticated animals, cassava, palm-oil products and sugar.
Isara said the prime minister backed the proposal and had ordered relevant state agencies to act accordingly.
Voravan Tarapoom, chairwoman of the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations, said the last proposal was for the Transport Ministry to allow for greater private-sector involvement in improving the country’s rail system, especially in terms of service and operations.
She said Transport Minister Prajin Juntong agreed with the proposal and the ministry would investigate the matter in cooperation with the private sector and introduce it at the next meeting of the Joint Public Private Consultative Committee.
 

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