The cabinet yesterday approved measures including tax incentives to support Thailand becoming a jewellery trading centre, with an aim to raise gems and jewellery exports to US$17 billion from $13 billion last year.
Nathaporn Chatusripitak, an adviser to Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn, said jewellery entrepreneurs will be allowed to enjoy a two-fold corporate tax deduction on expenses incurred while employing skilled workers who are registered with the Skill Development Department.
The tax incentive is meant to attract entrepreneurs to hire skilled labourers to preserve Thai uniqueness in jewellery and ornament production.
The cabinet also approved import tariff waivers for raw materials used in jewellery and ornament production and cut tariffs for imported finished products to 10% from 20%.
Individual sellers of raw materials for jewellery are also allowed a 1% reduction of personal income tax, with value-added tax (VAT) exempted for raw material imports.
A VAT waiver is also awarded to registered entrepreneurs who import raw materials or semi-finished products.
Mr Nathaporn said the cabinet also agreed to extend 30 billion baht worth of soft loans through the Government Savings Bank (GSB) to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to upgrade their machinery and productivity until Oct 31, 2017 from Dec 31, 2016.
The GSB has provided 12.7 billion baht worth of soft loans to 985 entrepreneurs.
Thailand's jewellery industry is ranked eighth globally by value, and jewellery is among the top four products tourists buy. The industry employs more than 900,000 workers with 37,000 operators.
In a related development, Kobsak Phutrakul, assistant minister to the Prime Minister's Office, said the cabinet yesterday approved the additional mid-year budget of 190 billion baht for fiscal 2017.
Of the mid-year budget, 115 billion will be slated for domestic economic development, of which 80 billion is for provincial development, 20 billion for the SME Development Fund, and 15 billion as a central budget to be used for expenses in promoting and strengthening the domestic economy.
Of the remaining budget, 10 billion baht will be set aside as a fund to strengthen the competitiveness of targeted industries, 15 billion is for the Village Fund, 27.1 billion is compensation to the Treasury and 22.9 billion is for emergency expenses.