The government has set a “proactive economic plan” aimed at drawing at least 1 million high-income foreign tourists and foreign investors in the new S-Curve industries as part of efforts to free the country from the middle-income trap.
Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said that a meeting of the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA), chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, approved last Friday in principle a plan to promote investment and tourism for a post-pandemic economic recovery.
Concerned agencies have been given one month to present details of the plan before the next meeting of the CESA, he said.
“When the meeting endorses the details, state agencies will step up efforts to attract a first investor by June, with an aim of promoting investment, tourism and stimulate domestic consumption,” he said, adding the government has set the target of achieving 4% economic growth for this year and next year.
In terms of tourism, a proposal will be put forward to amend regulations governing foreign property owners to allow them to buy houses in Thailand more easily.
This is intended to draw high-income retirees from Europe, Scandinavia, Japan and South Korea to live in Thailand, said ML Chayotid Kridakon, adviser to Mr Punmeechaow.
Under a short-term plan, the government will attract foreign tourists with high incomes from around the world, particularly retirees, to visit and settle in Thailand. “There are about 200 million of them around the world and we have set a target of drawing one million to Thailand each year,” said ML Kridakon, a former managing director for JP Morgan Thailand.
“These people earn about 300,000-400,000 baht a month. If one million of them are here in Thailand and spend about 100,000 a month each, Thailand will get about 1.2 trillion baht a year from them.”
Mr Punmeechaow said the plan aims to achieve continuous economic growth by 4-5%, and a study by the Bank of Thailand shows that if such growth continues for six to seven years, Thailand will be able to free itself from the middle-income trap.
Plans are to improve regulations on immigration and applications for visas and work permits for foreign experts to work in Thailand, such as improving the requirements for foreign expats to report their whereabouts every 90 days to authorities, he said.
Tax structures will also be tweaked to attract foreign investors to set up their regional offices in Thailand such as reducing corporate income tax for them, as well as improving privileges and benefits for regional hubs, retirees, self-employed people and start-ups, he said.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith insisted on Wednesday the government would not consider raising the 7% value-added tax (VAT) at least for the next couple of years. The government now looks set to keep the 7% VAT intact for another year from 30th September when the extended period of maintaining the same 7% VAT expires.
As the ministry is in the process of revising the country’s tax rates, one important requirement is the new tax rates will have to support the government’s development of the new S-curve industries, he said.
Asked how badly the government will miss its tax revenue target this year, he said the outcome of tax collections by the end of June will tell.