Government sets deadlines for ranking improvement

Government sets deadlines for ranking improvement

Mr Suvit, addressing a Bangkok Post conference in March, says the government is committed to bureaucratic reform. Chanat Katanyu
Mr Suvit, addressing a Bangkok Post conference in March, says the government is committed to bureaucratic reform. Chanat Katanyu

Thailand is aiming for No.2 in Asean in the World Bank's next ease of doing business rankings for 2019 after the country rose to 26th in the 2018 list from 48th the year before.

The first meeting of a committee handling national reform chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha agreed yesterday to set the lofty target to beat Malaysia in next year's rankings.

Suvit Maesincee, the PM's Office Minister, said to achieve the goal the government is committed to continuing bureaucratic reform, especially in the service sector, legal reform, and government digitalisation.

The priorities are customs service, the cadastral survey, the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval process and education management.

The Customs Department has been required to cut its import-export procedures for strategic goods such as rubber, rice, sugar and frozen foods to one hour from 60 days, and six months for hazardous goods procedures.

The FDA is required to shorten the registration process for drugs and food to 220 days from 280 days, while the Intellectual Property Department needs to speed up registration for 30,000 pending intellectual property and patent applications by early 2019.

The Land Department is required to accelerate its land cadastral survey, from 440 days to 107 days, then 60 days for future surveys.

The latest report was released on Nov 1, with 190 economies ranked. Thailand made impressive strides after adopting eight reforms in the past year.

The government has not only improved the regulatory framework that was an obstacle to doing business by invoking Section 44, but also supported the development of a comprehensive Doing Business portal to be launched in 2019 to provide easier and faster services for business owners.

In ranking 26th, Thailand rose to the top 15% of countries globally in ease of doing business.

The government abolished a requirement to obtain a company seal and eliminated the need for approval of company work regulations from the Labour Department. As a result, the time taken to start a business was reduced to 4.5 days from 27.5.

The government also introduced an automatic risk-based system for selecting companies for a tax audit; reduced the property transfer tax rate; adopted legislation to broaden the scope of assets that can be used as collateral; and is using geographic information systems for access to electricity.

Systematic reforms continue to strengthen the business environment, focusing on areas with room for further improvement, such as enforcing contracts, registering property and paying taxes.

For example, the time required to enforce contracts is 420 days, compared with the maximum of 164 days in Singapore.

On registering property, the cost of transferring property is 7.3% of the property value, above the regional average of 4.3%.

Additional simplification in paying taxes -- in Thailand it takes 262 hours on average to prepare, file and pay taxes, ranking 67th globally -- will also be important.

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