|Thailand Update | October 18, 2018
Authors: Riley Smith, Ella Duangkaew, Monica Chritton
|THE COUNCIL'S TAKE|
Thailand Considers Cigarette Tax
The Ministry of Public Health proposed a cigarette tax of 1-2 baht per packet that is intended to raise revenue for the Health Insurance Fund and to dissuade the purchase of cigarettes. However, in a public response to this proposal, the Ministry of Finance, which would oversee implementing the tax, said that it was not aware of the proposal prior to the Ministry of Public Health’s announcement, and that such a tax proposal might be inconsistent with Thailand’s tax laws. Given the above, the proposal still has a way to go if it were to be implemented.
According to the Bangkok Post, Minister of Finance Apisak Tantivorawong said he had not been notified of the proposed tax increase, and that “such a law cannot be drafted until it is assessed to be in accordance with the Fiscal Discipline Act.” According to Minister Apisak, the Act “does not permit other state agencies to propose an earmarked tax reserved solely for a specific group or usage,” meaning that the proposed cigarette tax must first be approved by the Finance Ministry. Tantivorawong also stated that the Ministry of Public Health was seeking funding for its Universal Coverage (or “gold cards”) scheme, and that using a potential public health concern such as cigarettes may be a way to raise some of the necessary revenue. Director General of the Excise Department Patchara Anuntasilpa also said that he was also not aware of the proposed cigarette tax increase. In addition, the Ministry of Public Health has thus far not been able to offer much clarity on the proposed tax increase, particularly its development and implementation timeline.
The proposed tax would be the latest measure intended to continue Thailand’s efforts to reduce smoking. According to Public Health Minister Dr. Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, up to 50,000 people die from smoking-related illnesses per year in Thailand. Additionally, the 2017 World Health Organization (WHO) reports on the global tobacco epidemic found 20.7% of Thai adults and 15% of youth were tobacco smokers respectively. The WHO recognized Thailand’s leading role in drafting the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which it signed and ratified in 2005. In 2017, Thailand passed its Tobacco Products Control Act to prevent youth from smoking, limiting smoking areas and banning tobacco marketing, advertising and corporate social responsibility activities.
Thai Commerce Ministry Launches Feasibility Study on Blockchain Applications
Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce announced plans to launch feasibility studies on the application of blockchain technology to intellectual property (IP) registration, agriculture supply chains and trade finance. The feasibility studies, which are expected to conclude by February 2019, are just the latest example of Thailand’s interest in fostering the use of blockchain technology in the country, which could potentially set Thailand up to be a leader in the region on the use of the technology.
The benefit of blockchain, according to Pimchanok Vonkorpon, Director-General of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office (TPSO) under the Commerce Ministry, is increased transparency and efficiency in business operations. The topics covered in the IP feasibility study will include registration, protection and smart contracts via blockchain. In addition to the feasibility studies on IP and trade finance, TPSO aims to apply the regulatory sandbox approach the use of blockchain for organic rice export processing to encourage experimentation and innovation. The ultimate goal would be to increase trust and transparency while reducing costs and delays in the export process, with processing potentially being reduced to less than three days, according to Vonkorporn.
Thailand’s government overall appears to recognize the potential of blockchain technology, including its use in cryptocurrencies. TechCrunch reported that Thailand’s government is already mapping out its own central bank digital currency, called Project Inthanon, and the Thai government has become increasingly outspoken and welcoming of cryptocurrency projects and exchanges. Thailand has also delivered licensing services and permits exchanges for cryptocurrency companies. In June, the SEC laid out guidelines to allow seven cryptocurrencies to be used as trading pairs, following the enactment of a 100-section emergency decree in May detailing the requirements for the authorized use of cryptocurrency.
Thai State Agencies to Urge Prime Minister to Amend Latest Draft Cybersecurity Bill
Thailand’s National Cybersecurity Committee and Thailand Information Security Association (TISA) reportedly plan to urge Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) to amend the most recent draft of Thailand’s Cybersecurity Bill, citing concerns that it could have a potentially negative impact on business and privacy. In principle, the Bill is intended to strengthen Thailand’s cybersecurity and protect users and critical information infrastructure (CII). However, the National Cybersecurity Committee has said that changes should be made to strengthen the Bill’s protections for businesses and better clarify the regulatory powers granted to the proposed Cyber Security Agency (CSA).
If passed, the Bill will form a regulatory agency, the Cyber Security Agency (CSA), tasked with implementing the Bill. According to the Bangkok Post, General Bunjerd Tientongdee of the National Cybersecurity Committee raised concerns over three aspects of the Bill:
Other members of the National Cybersecurity Committee echoed these concerns, highlighting the Bill’s good intentions, but noting its lack of clarity in how it would be implemented due to broad and vague language. Members of this state body pointed out a lack of outside input in the Bill’s drafting process and the granting of excessive powers to the CSA, including the lack of a court warrant process in cases where the CSA can access and seize computers or computer systems.
In addition to the proposed Cyber Security Bill, Thailand has recently undertaken several other initiatives aimed at building its cybersecurity regulatory environment and capacity, including a recent Personal Data Protection Bill, the launching of an ASEAN-Japan Cybersecurity Capacity Building Centre, and approving a National ID Bill.
A public consultation for the most recent draft of the Cyber Security Bill ended on October 12. As part of that public consultation, the Council solicited input from member companies and submitted the consolidated feedback to the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES). The Council also submitted comments on a previous version of the Bill on April 17.
|IN THIS UPDATE|
FTA talks being accelerated Bangkok Post 16th Oct 2018
Air of anticipation over Dr M's visit to Thailand later this month New Straits Times 14th Oct 2018
Four Asean nations to lift barriers to cross-border investment advisory The Straits Times 11th Oct 2018
Abe pledges to promote free trade with Thailand, offers legal and political assistance to Cambodia The Japan Times 9th Oct 2018
Thailand's twin challenges as Asean chair The Straits Times 9th Oct 2018
PM Prayut donates 5 million baht as foreign aid picks up for Indonesia’s quake survivors Thai PBS World 5th Oct 2018
Organizations' recommendations for Senators now being accepted National News Bureau of Thailand 17th Oct 2018
State to pay unpaid SSO contributions Bangkok Post 16th Oct 2018
NBTC's No.2 quits for politics Bangkok Post 11th Oct 2018
Thailand Will Hold February Election, Prime Minister Tells Abe Bangkok Post 9th Oct 2018
EC will dissolve Pheu Thai if probe finds Thaksin controls it Bangkok Post 9th Oct 2018
Prawit to meet Mattis ahead of Vietnam trip Bangkok Post 16th Oct 2018
Sri Lanka seeks to strengthen defense cooperation with Thailand Colombo Page 11th Oct 2018
Exporters improve FTA and GSP use Bangkok Post 17th Oct 2018
Cabinet gives green light to draft on small businesses The Nation 16th Oct 2018
Bank of Thailand Sees Economy Capable of Absorbing Rate Hike Bloomberg 11th Oct 2018
Win Streak Likely To End For Thai Stock Market Nasdaq 10th Oct 2018
Thailand to tighten home loans to curb risks Reuters 5th Oct 2018
Excise Department to conclude EV tax rules soon Bangkok Post 16th Oct 2018
Energy Ministry to find fuel pricing aid for low-income motorcycle taxi drivers Pattaya Mail 15th Oct 2018
Japanese angle for fish processing hub Bangkok Post 17th Oct 2018
New agricultural extension chief appointed in seven-official reshuffle The Nation 16th Oct 2018
Thai government pushes reform in agriculture sector Asia Times 11th Oct 2018
Chemical residue warning on Thai fruit and vegetables Asia Times 8th Oct 2018
Ministry to compensate rubber growers The Nation 5th Oct 2018
Latest tax break covers B60k of prenatal care, childbirth costs Bangkok Post 17th Oct 2018
Thai schools to be banned from expelling pregnant students Channel News Asia 15th Oct 2018
New law offers unprecedented medical benefits for workers The Nation 14th Oct 2018
TFA: Fintech law to be enacted this year Bangkok Post 17th Oct 2018
Premier dismisses cyber bill criticism Bangkok Post 17th Oct 2018
Undisclosed online prices targeted Bangkok Post 16th Oct 2018
Nectec academy formed to help train IoT skill set The Nation 15th Oct 2018
SET backs automated reports Bangkok Post 15th Oct 2018
Thailand paces region in CMMI-certified software Bangkok Post 11th Oct 2018
Bangkok CyberTech District seen as ‘game changer’ The Nation 10th Oct 2018
Commerce studies blockchain benefits Bangkok Post 9th Oct 2018
EEC panel gives nod for digital push The Nation 7th Oct 2018
IEAT targets new Sadao SEZ investment of B20bn Bangkok Post 16th Oct 2018
Thailand's Suvarnabhumi airport sees US$4.3 billion expansion as arrivals rise Channel NewsAsia 11th Oct 2018
Travelers Spend More Money in Thailand Than Anywhere Else in Asia Bloomberg 10th Oct 2018
Air safety plan won't be ready until 2022 Bangkok Post 10th Oct 2018
Three Cities in Thailand among the 20 Most-visited Destinations in the World Pattaya Mail 7th Oct 2018