Govt plans to extend work permits

Govt plans to extend work permits

Pridiyathorn expects economy to pick up

Chiang Rai - The government plans to seek cabinet approval for its proposal to extend the maximum period of work permits for foreigners working in Thailand to two years from the current one year, as part of a range of measures aimed at attracting more foreign investment. 

Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula revealed the plan at Sunday's forum of the 32nd Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) annual meeting in Chiang Rai.

The government planned to propose the cabinet approve the work permit extension at the weekly meeting tomorrow. It was among measures designed to boost foreign investment in Thailand, he said.

Other measures include a plan to give privileges to foreign investors for establishing regional headquarters in Thailand.

These measures have been created with a goal to turn Thailand into a "trading nation", said MR Pridiyathorn, who is in charge of the government's economic affairs.

An associated plan to develop Thailand into a "digital economy" will also be launched on Jan 1, he said.

"The Thai economy will see a clear recovery in January thanks to the economic stimulus measures the government has been implementing," he said.

The acceleration of state budget disbursement in fiscal years 2014 and 2015 should be sufficient to stimulate the economy at this stage and no new stimulus package is needed in order to achieve 4% growth next year, he said.

About 270 billion baht has been designated for an investment budget in fiscal year 2015 alone, MR Pridiyathorn said.

In an attempt to tackle politicians' corruption, the Finance Ministry is considering a regulation which allows taxpayers to ask the Revenue Department to allocate 1% of their taxes to support political parties. The fund could amount to as much as 6 billion baht annually.

The government will also push for a law amendment to set a time frame for the working procedures of police, prosecutors and courts in corruption cases. In addition, under the amendment, political position holders would have to leave their posts if the courts accept their corruption cases for trial.

MR Pridiyathorn, however, admitted the government might not be able to live up to the high public expectation that it resolve all major national problems in one year.

Among the three main areas of problems — economic, social and political matters — to tackle, the government has so far dealt mainly with major social problems which have long affected public security such as mafia-style influential police cliques, police bribery, illegal gambling, illegal public transport services, and illegal migrants, he said.

The government was working on amendments to more than 100 laws to facilitate the launch of the Asean Economic Community next year, he said.

Meanwhile, Sauwanee Thairungroj, president of the TCC, is optimistic the political situation will stay calm through next year, which she said would be good for the government's implementation of its investment schemes that are centred on infrastructure projects and forming special economic zones.

Both infrastructure development and the establishment of special economic zones are crucial for the government's intentions to use border trade to drive economic growth in the year to come, Ms Sauwanee said.

Ms Sauwanee also shared the optimistic view that the Thai economy will grow 4% next year. She said this year's growth is expected to stand at only 0.8% given several risk factors including low agricultural product prices and high household debt rates.

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