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International school under fire for SET listing

Nov 29. 2018
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By The Nation

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A senior Democrat Party member and ex-finance minister Korn Chaitikavanij has objected to SISB Co Ltd, the manager of the Singapore International School in Thailand, being listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET).

The shares began trading on Thursday on the SET’s Market for Alternative Investment. 

Korn urged the Finance Ministry to investigate the case.

He posted on Facebook on Wednesday that he felt uneasy about the move by SISB, a ThaiSingaporean joint venture that reported up to Bt80 million in profit per year. 

Korn said he did not mind private schools seeking profits as it created more investment and competition that provided parents with alternatives. He said market forces would generally ensure fairness in term of price and quality. 

However, private schools were exempted from corporate income tax as the government wanted to support privatesector investment in education, he said. 

By providing a tax incentive, the government should set a condition to control a ratio of profits that will turn into dividends for shareholders to ensure profits would go back to funding schools. 

In case the company is selling its shares, the shareholders must pay tax for capital gains, as usual, he added.

"If the shareholders wanted to list the school on the SET, the government should cancel its tax privilege because the principle of a company entering the stock market is to maximise profits for shareholders, which is not in line with the government's aim to support private schools,” Korn said. 

“Being listed on SET will give pressure to the institute to make profits fast, which is not what the government's tax incentive is given it for, and will allow stock investors to sell the shares for profit without having to pay tax," he said.

He contrasted it to the private hospitals' listing on SET. Private hospitals were not exempt from tax and were in need of raising money for costly medical equipment, he said.

He urged the government to invest in public schools which would narrow the social gap so citizens would not fall behind their wealthy peers who could afford private schools.

 

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