Uttama outlines ambitious plans
Aims to improve access to services
Addressing cost of living, easier retail loan accessibility, extending state welfare to pregnant women and firstborns, and improving healthcare services are among the Finance Ministry's priorities, says Minister Uttama Savanayana.
Widening access to medical services, alleviating congestion at large hospitals and assisting top-scoring students who have financial difficulties will also be on the ministry's urgent list, he said after a discussion with the ministry's high-ranking officials.
The short-term measures will be financed by the 2019 annual budget, while the longer-term ones will be funded by next year's budget, said Mr Uttama.
He said the ministry will adjust the 2020 fiscal budget to enable government spending to be injected faster into the economy, while salary hikes for first-time workers would be in line with labour skills.
The long-term measures include keeping fiscal discipline, offering tax incentives for investors who embark in new targeted industries, tax structure reform, tax rejigs to serve the digital era and enhance the private sector's competitive edge, and big data adoption for fiscal management.
Mr Uttama said the Fiscal Policy Office has already been assigned to study a tax structure revamp.
For savings, the Finance Ministry wants to nudge everyone to have long-term savings for retirement. It also plans to develop the capital market, as well as infrastructure to serve the digital economy, bioeconomy, circular economy, green economy, creative economy. Another goal is to improve laws for new entrepreneurs, he said.
The ministry under his leadership will continue developing the Eastern Economic Corridor to serve as Asia's media hub, along as an aviation centre and smart city.
The EEC should also connect the agricultural sector to industry and solve land problems to drive the country's economy towards sustainability, he said.
A source at the ministry who requested anonymity said the Palang Pracharath Party's campaign promise of a personal income tax cut will cost the government tens of billions of baht, so a way to offset the foregone revenue is needed. Rejigging current tax allowances and exemptions could be one offset, the source said.
Revenue Department head Ekniti Nitithanprapas has said it is studying two options for the personal income tax cut -- an outright 10-percentage-point cut across tax brackets and a 10% discount across brackets.