Govt manifesto set for scrutiny

Govt manifesto set for scrutiny

Tax revamp tops coalition policies

Revamping tax structures plagued with discrepancies is high on the government's policy agenda after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha submitted his government's policies to the parliament speaker for debate, promising to move the country out of the middle-income trap during his tenure.

The 66-page document was sent to Speaker Chuan Leekpai on Friday and released to the public yesterday. The document will be distributed to all lawmakers before a two-day policy debate starts on Thursday.

One of the top priorities outlined is to revise tax structures to ensure fairness and reduce income inequality.

The document also notes that policies involving education, public health and infrastructure development will require massive budgets.

It says that an average annual budget is estimated at 3.3 trillion baht while tax revenue remains limited. In light of this, the government must move to make the tax collection system more comprehensive.

The government also plans to promote trade, investment and tourism to pull in more revenue which will, in turn, raise more tax to implement government policies, according to the statement.

If any investment projects are economically viable and vital to laying the foundation for long-term development, the government will consider funding them through out-of-budget-sources, including loans and allowing the private sector to jointly invest, according to the document.

Gen Prayut will declare the policies in parliament ahead of a debate, where the opposition will grill him and his cabinet members.

The prime minister will outline 12 urgent issues for the government ranging from addressing bread-and-butter concerns and tax system reform to global economic uncertainty.

"The government is determined to promote development to move Thailand out of the middle-income trap," Gen Prayut will say in a prepared speech to be delivered to the legislative members on Thursday.

The government will speed up research and development on marijuana, hemp and other herbs for medical purposes to boost the economy and people's income.

He said the government will gather public feedback about whether to amend the charter, but there is no timeframe for this.

The policies are largely a continuation of those made by the previous coup-appointed government, which pushed for its flagship policy, the Eastern Economic Corridor, to create new industries for the country.

Mr Chuan has set aside Thursday and Friday for the policy debate, although it can be extended by another day if necessary.

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana, who is also the leader of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, yesterday said that the party had never promised an outright reduction of income tax during the election.

It is merely looking at changing the current tax structure plagued with discrepancies so as to reduce income inequality.

This will necessarily involve increasing taxes for some and lowering the rates for others, Mr Uttama said.

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