SEC plans to beef up competitiveness

SEC plans to beef up competitiveness

New rules on foreign firms, infrastructure

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is set to change regulations governing investment in infrastructure trusts as well as neighbouring countries, allowing companies from other nations to trade their securities on the Thai stock market as part of efforts to maintain competitiveness.

The securities watchdog is expected to unveil regulations for setting up infrastructure trusts during the first three months of next year, deputy secretary-general Tipsuda Thavaramara said yesterday.

An infrastructure trust has wider investment options for types of infrastructure than infrastructure funds, which are restricted to investment in 10 categories — railways, electric grids, deep-sea ports, roads, telecommunications, water supply, alternative energy, natural disaster prevention systems, waterworks and airports.

Moreover, infrastructure funds must specify in which infrastructure projects the fund invests. However, infrastructure trust holders are subject to personal income tax, while infrastructure fund holders are exempt from personal income tax for 10 years.

Infrastructure trusts would be able to invest in any infrastructure projects in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), Mrs Tipsuda said. The GMS comprises Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and southern China's Yunnan province. 

She said the SEC would lift a 15% ceiling on local mutual funds' investment in listed securities in GMS countries starting from next year's second quarter.

In a related development, depository receipts issued by listed companies in GMS countries will be allowed to list on the Stock Exchange of Thailand in the first half of next year, as the SET has a higher trading volume than their home bourses.

The moves will allow Thailand to have greater capabilities in becoming a regional funding hub and offer broader investment choices for Thai investors.

"Our vision is to be a winner in the Asean Economic Community, not just in preparing for an integrated market. The capital market provides financial instruments for the country's development, so it must be strong. The SEC must have credibility and be able to support the country's long-term sustainability," said SEC secretary-general Vorapol Socatiyanurak.

Offering a variety of capital market products to attract foreign investors and new funding channels to cover all sizes of companies, particularly small businesses, are among the SEC's main strategies next year, he said.

A law allowing the SEC to bring civil fraud charges against those suspected of unfair trading practices is expected to come into force next year, aimed at helping the SEC be more efficient in tackling stock manipulation and insider trading. Under the current SEC Act, all cases are considered criminal liabilities, so initiating charges is a time-consuming process.

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