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Reform urged on inheritance, property taxes

Former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij has recommended that the military government undertake ambitious reform of property and inheritance tax, which had been impossible to do under normal political circumstances.

Such tax reform, once accomplished, would not only help raise substantial revenue for the government but would also create a more equitable society, he said.

Korn told The Nation yesterday that the draft legislation for the property tax is already there. It only needed to be passed by Parliament but the Yingluck government dropped it. Korn said with the powers it has, the [current] military government could finish it within a week,.

Apart from further reform of the value-added or capital-gains taxes, Korn also signalled his support for the National Council for Peace and Order's attempt to revamp state enterprises through the recent appointment of a so-called superboard.

The superboard is authorised to recommend policies, management and development plans for all state enterprises. It is also empowered to supervise and follow up the performance of state enterprises to ensure effectiveness and efficiency among other goals. The board members include financiers, businesspeople and lawyers.

There are about 57 state enterprises with combined assets of Bt5 trillion. However, Korn said both he and Somkid Jatusripitak, also a former finance minister, had found it difficult to make the state enterprises more transparent or efficient in spite of their huge financial role in the economy.

As for the appointment of Piyasvasti Amranand, a former energy minister and ex-president of Thai Airways International, as a board member of PTT, Korn said he had no doubts about his credentials and qualifications because Piyasvasti was one of the country's top energy experts.

He said Piyasvasti was able to turn around Thai Airways during his tenure before his untimely resignation, and his task at PTT would not focus on profitability because the energy giant is already profitable, but to improve its transparency and the fairness of its trading practices.

On Monday the three new directors on PTT's board - Piyasvasti, Pornchai Rujiprapha, a former permanent secretary of the Energy Ministry, and Kurujit Nakornthap, a former deputy permanent secretary of the ministry - who were appointed by the junta to replace those who had resigned, called a press conference to clarify their qualifications, after some opposition had been voiced by some non-governmental organisations.

All three insisted that they would work with transparency and for the good of the country.


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