JSCCIB issues policy wish list
Push for transparency, better competitiveness
The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) on Wednesday submitted a white paper proposing the government tackle six issues, including the revival of the Joint Public-Private Consultative Committee (JPPCC) and the acceleration of the flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
The panel of business leaders also recommended the government strengthen the competitiveness of the private sector, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); improve state agency management; promote transparency; and develop human resources.
"The six issues are the centrepiece the government should accelerate to boost the economy," said Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said the private sector also supports the government's plan to enact economic stimulus measures.
But he said businesses remain concerned about transparency and want spending to go directly to helping farmers and SMEs.
Stimulus on the cards
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Uttama Savanaya said strengthening internal factors is the government's priority and the stimulus measures will go before the economic cabinet tomorrow.
The stimulus package will include plans to spur the economy in the medium and long terms, he said, adding the secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Council has taken charge of gathering measures proposed by various ministries for the economic cabinet's approval.
The package will be sufficient to cushion the country against global headwinds, Mr Uttama said.
Capital markets, the service and manufacturing sectors, and others can join forces to improve Thailand's competitive edge and decentralise growth to narrow social disparity, he said.
Mr Uttama asked companies listed on the SET 50 index and other groups involved with capital markets to put forward ideas for inclusive development, starting with micro-entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said the new stimulus package should be comprehensive and effective enough to boost the domestic economy in the third and fourth quarters of this year.
"The world's economy is in a downturn, while the Thai economy in the second quarter is expected to have grown by less than in the first quarter," he said.
Export boost vowed
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said the government is committed to accelerating expansion into markets in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, as well as China, India, South Asia and the Middle East.
Plans call for reviving old export markets such as Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain, to which Thailand has slowed shipments in recent years.
Mr Jurin on Wednesday chaired the meeting of the Joint Public and Private Sector Consultative Committee on Commerce to evaluate the export outlook and how to boost shipments in the remaining months of the year amid the US-China trade dispute.
"We aim to produce concrete results within 3-6 months," he said.
According to Mr Jurin, the International Trade Promotion Department will set up a working group to boost exports and tackle trade obstacles in each potential market.
The Commerce Ministry also vows to ramp up border trade and extend the opening hours at some checkpoints, as well as add more permanent checkpoints.
Paiboon Nalinthrangkurn, chairman of the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organizations (Fetco), said many countries have helped their SMEs by launching a special trading board for such businesses, restricting investment to institutional investors, venture capital funds and high net worth investors who are knowledgeable.
"SMEs are mostly small businesses prone to uncertain factors, so the [government] should not allow general investors to invest in this market," Mr Paiboon said.
As for new measures aimed at supporting Thailand's capital market development, they are expected to take time to bear fruit, he said.
Fetco recently proposed a sustainable equity fund to the Finance Ministry to replace the long-term equity fund, whose tax privilege is set to expire at the end of this year.
The group also proposed the establishment of a mandatory provident fund to help people accrue enough savings for retirement.
"Regarding tax collection from capital gains derived from stock market investment, I personally think this is not a good time," Mr Paiboon said.
"Thailand's capital market should not jump-start such tax collection just to be similar to other regional capital markets."
The Stock Exchange of Thailand index was still in the red on Wednesday. But the decline was not as steep as Tuesday's close, as US President Donald Trump announced a delay in additional tariffs on Chinese imports to Dec 15, citing "health, safety, national security and other factors".