August 05, 2014 01:00 By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
Foresees 4% economic growth but seeks legal amendments
The private-sector Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking sees the economy growing stronger by 4 per cent this second half year, but exports barely expanding by 1.2-1.5 per cent for the whole year.
After the monthly meeting of the country’s three most powerful business organisations yesterday, Boontuck Wungcharoen, chairman of the meeting and of the Thai Bankers’ Association, said the private sector expected brighter prospects this year due to the global economic recovery and the clear stimulus strategy laid down by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
The approval of budgets totalling Bt2.4 trillion for transport-infrastructure development in the next eight years and improved business confidence after the military took over governance of the country will help promote growth, he said.
Exports will pick up only slightly this year because of the economic slowdown in China, which will have an impact on prices of farm products, mainly rubber and sugar, he said. China is Thailand’s major farm-goods importer.
Foods, building materials
However, exports of other industries – mainly foods and construction materials – should grow stronger.
The Thai economy has shown signs of more pronounced growth in the second half on higher confidence among consumers and businesses.
However, durable goods have not yet recovered, as the economy is quite fragile after it was disrupted by the political conflict for many months.
The NCPO’s plan to increase salaries for government officials will result in a slight bump in inflation, as some goods prices will increase, Boontuck predicted. But prices should not rise too much this year since the economy has not yet fully recovered.
Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said the wage hike for junior officials should benefit the economy and stimulate domestic consumption, but inevitably inflation will increase along with rising wages.
The joint committee has also considered proposing to the NCPO and the National Legislative Assembly the passage of some bills and the amendment of some business-related laws and bills to facilitate business growth.
For instance, the FTI will propose amendments to the Customs Act and the corporate tax to avoid duplicate taxation, and a reduction or waiver of the value-added tax in manufacturing.
The bankers association will propose the passage of the Secure Transaction Bill and the E-Payment Bill. The Board of Trade of Thailand and the Thai Chamber of Commerce will propose amendments to business laws to bring them into compliance with Asean laws, such as the Customs Act, the Trade Competition Act, acts related to intellectual-property rights, the Cross Border Trade Act and the Telecommunications Act.
Somkiat Anuras, vice chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the joint committee had also proposed plans to boost the economy in the southernmost provinces. It has agreed to support the investment of Bt10 billion over three to five years in four provinces in the South.
The business groups are also delighted with the NCPO’s approval of the extension of special privileges for investors in the deep South for three years to 2017.
Wanted changes to laws and bills
Some of the laws and bills that the Joint Standing Committee will propose for amendment by the National Legislative Assembly:
Federation of Thai Industries
l Customs Act
l Corporate Tax Act
Thai Bankers’ Association
l Secured Transactions Bill
l E-Payment Bill
Board of Trade of Thailand and Thai Chamber of Commerce