Thailand mulls visa rule change to boost revenue

14-Apr-2021 Intellasia | TaipeiTimes | 5:02 AM Print This Post

The Thai government could revamp immigration rules this year to make it easier for expats and long-term tourists to stay in the country, part of a strategy to boost investment and tourism revenue once the COVID-19 pandemic eases.

“Immigration rules are the key pain point” for foreigners working in Thailand, Chayotid Kridakorn, 54, a former head of JPMorgan Securities (Thailand) who is leading a government task force to smooth investment into Thailand, said in a telephone interview from Bangkok. “We want to make it easier for foreigners to live and work in Thailand.”

Authorities contend that making it easier for foreign companies to bring in skilled workers and for Western retirees to stay in Thailand would boost the economy, which last year suffered its biggest contraction in more than two decades.

GDP growth would not return to pre-pandemic levels until the third quarter of next year, the Bank of Thailand has said.

A detailed framework to boost investment and tourism would be proposed to the government’s economic panel within a month, Chayotid said.

Plans include improving regulations on immigration, visa applications and work permits for foreign experts, including relaxing the requirement for foreign workers to report their whereabouts to authorities every 90 days.

The framework also would include inducements for foreign investors such as corporate income-tax cuts, relaxed property-holding rules and incentives for retirees and start-up companies.

Chayotid, an adviser to Thai deputy prime minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow, said he aims to attract 1 million retirees or pensioners to Thailand in the next few years, who he claimed could contribute as much as 1.2 trillion baht (US$38.1 billion) to the Thai economy each year.

Foreign direct investment more than halved over the past five years to about 361 billion baht last year as investors were deterred by factors including periodic political uncertainties, low growth prospects due to an aging society and a labour shortage.

Foreign tourist arrivals into Thailand plunged to 6.7 million last year, the lowest level in at least 12 years, after the country closed its borders to contain the pandemic.

Other points from the interview with Chayotid included that the task force would talk to foreign manufacturers in Thailand, especially in the auto and electronic industries, about how to upgrade their technology or bring research and development functions to Thailand; the team would recommend the government offer more incentives and develop infrastructure for use of electric vehicles, which could encourage local producers to meet rising demand locally; and the team would approach new investors when Thailand reopens its borders later this year

“If we don’t fix this now, it will be too late to upgrade our investment,” Chayotid said. “We don’t want to be left behind and die with old technology.”


Category: Thailand

Print This Post

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.