State urged to tweak laws to spur revival

The Thai Chamber of Commerce has proposed the government tweak laws and regulations that remain obstacles to ease of doing business, facilitating foreigners to stay longer in Thailand to help quickly revive the economy once Covid-19 infections ease.

Sanan Angubolkul, the chamber’s chairman, said he held a discussion on the subject with Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow on Friday.

With the nationwide vaccination drive starting last week and concerted efforts to address the tight liquidity felt by entrepreneurs, the government needs to expedite its regulatory guillotine, either by amending or removing laws and regulations to help operators conduct business, particularly those related to tourism-related businesses such as the Hotel Act and Town and Country Planning Act, said Mr Sanan.

For example, there are various types of accommodation, such as rafts, tents and shared houses, that have not been regulated, resulting in unfair competition as those operators do not have to pay taxes similar to licensed hotels, he said.

Conflicting interpretations by different bodies create havoc for those who intend to apply for a licence, said Mr Sanan.

For instance, current regulations under the Interior Ministry allow old buildings to be converted into hotels, but these buildings must receive approval from the Public Works and Town and Country Planning Department before proceeding to the licensing process with the Department of Provincial Administration.

The two departments regularly see things differently, making it hard for operators to come to a conclusion, he said.

Mr Sanan said the government needs to urgently revamp regulations to allow wealthy foreigners to enjoy longer stays in Thailand, which would help the economy recover, while rigid rules need to be eased to give financial institutions more freedom to approve new loans, providing liquidity to troubled entrepreneurs.

“Financial institutions should be allowed to use their own discretion in approving loans by taking into account applicants’ prudent and effective business plans to drive their business growth and supply chains, rather than the applicants’ credit records compiled by the National Credit Bureau,” he said.

“The Bank of Thailand should unlock its regulations, allowing debtors with negative credit records with the National Credit Bureau or non-performing loans to access funding sources.”

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