Thailand Update: November 1, 2018

Thailand Update | November 1, 2018
Authors: Ella Duangkaew, Monica Chritton
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

November 8, 2018 - November 9, 2018: 2018 Business Mission to the 24th ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting

December 4, 2018 - December 6, 2018: 2018 Business Mission to the 18th ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting

April 1, 2019 - April 4, 2019: Mission to the 2019 ASEAN Finance Ministers' and Central Bank Governors' Meeting

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Cabinet Proposes Repeal of Existing International and Regional Headquarters Schemes, Introduces International Business Center (IBC) Scheme

The Cabinet, on October 9, introduced the single International Business Center (IBC) scheme to replace the Regional OperatingHeadquarters (ROH) I and II, International Headquarters (IHQ) and Treasury Center (TC), and International Trading Center (ITC) regimes. A summary from EY reports that entities that have already been granted tax, customs and employment incentives under the existing regimes will remain eligible until the expiration of any current status, but ROH I status, will end at the end of accounting year 2020. ROH and IHQ/TC entities can convert to IBC. The new IBC scheme will have new conditions, with details expected to be released shortly, following its consideration by the Council of State and National Legislative Assembly.

An analysis from Baker Mackenzie found that the new IBC scheme may not be as beneficial overall in comparison to the existing IHQ scheme, but has several new tax incentives, including, but not limited to, reduced corporate income tax (CIT) rates and exemption on CIT for dividend received from affiliates. New applicants for the IBC scheme will also be subject to meeting a new criteria, which includes minimum expenditure of at least 60 million Baht in each accounting period, which existing ROHs and IHQs would be exempt from should they wish to covert to IBCs.

The proposed IBC scheme regime is part of Thailand’s 2017 commitment to the G20/Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Inclusive Framework of Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) standards. Reviewing harmful tax practices is part of Thailand’s commitment to the four minimum standards of the G20/OECD Inclusive Framework of BEPS (Action 5). The three other actions Thailand has committed to are a review of treaty abuse (Action 6), enacting Country-by-Country reporting (Action 13) and enhancing the efficacy of dispute resolution (Action 4). The overall principle of the BEPs standards is to reduce reliance on CIT, increase transparency and efficiency and place countries on equal tax footing. Thailand’s efforts to comply with the BEPS framework complement the country’s overall efforts to increase transparency and alignment with international practices, as evidenced by their efforts to establish data protection standards and stronger intellectual property rights enforcement. These efforts are timely as Thailand prepares to assume the ASEAN chairmanship year, where it will be important for them to set an example of compliance with international best practices for the region.

Tourism Stimulus Package to go Before Cabinet

A tourism stimulus package is set to go before the Cabinet to mitigate the sharp decline in tourists felt during the most recent tourism peak season. The stimulus package, which is likely to be enforced from November 15 through December, is intended to attract more foreign tourists and is expected to include visa fee exemptions, flight package deals to second-tier destinations, tax measures for jewelry purchases and a focus on tourism safety.

The Bangkok Post reports that the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Finance Ministry, and Thai Airways International are combining efforts to support the tourism stimulus package. The report notes that the drop in tourists arriving from China has been particularly notable following a boating accident in Phuket that claimed the lives of 47 Chinese tourists in July. Following the accident, Thailand has worked to restore confidence in tourism safety.

The report pointed out that the stimulus package is meant to draw tourists from all over the world, not just from China, and that the government must ensure sustainable tourism growth while the spillover effects of tariffs enacted in recent global trade actions are still uncertain.

Government and tourism industry concern over recent peak season numbers is reasonable, given that tourism is a key economic driver. In a June 2018 report, the International Monetary Fund found that tourism, especially the large portion of tourist arrivals from China, is a key driver of growth in Thailand and of the “current large account surplus, which stood at 10.6 percent of GDP in 2017.” However, the report also noted that the benefits of tourism were concentrated to specific parts of the country. The report also recommended scaling up public investment to drive more inclusive growth through domestic demand.

Although the IMF predicts growth momentum to continue through 2019 thanks largely to the tourism and manufacturing industries, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatuspripitak has already cautioned the Ministry of Finance to prepare plans to anticipate any potential economic slowdown caused by global tariffs, according to the Bangkok Post. The Deputy Prime Minister emphasized the importance of bolstering infrastructure megaprojects and passing several tax bills, including a Revenue Code on e-business tax and the land and buildings tax to bolster the domestic economy. Stimulating the domestic economy is a high priority for the current administration as elections near, and the tourism stimulus package may be the first of many such initiatives to demonstrate the administration’s efforts to bolster domestic growth.

Thailand’s Draft Cybersecurity Bill Continues to Draw Industry Outcry, PM Orders Review

Thailand’s Draft Cybersecurity Bill has drawn criticism from several stakeholders, including state agencies, domestic business and foreign businesses operating in Thailand, who share concerns about the Bill’s potential to create opportunities for abuse of power and data privacy breaches. The Bill will proceed to the National Legislative Assembly following its expected approval by the Cabinet this month. In response to widespread outcry, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has called for review of the Bill this week, according to the Bangkok Post.

Criticism of the Cybersecurity Bill includes questions of its potential to silence public opinion ahead of the upcoming elections, risks to confidential information and concerns that the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) created by the Cybersecurity Bill would have far-reaching powers. General Bunjerd Tientongdee, a member of the National Cybersecurity Committee, said that the Prime Minister and National Legislative Assembly must be informed that the current version of the Bill has serious flaws and that must be amended.

Notably, the CSA would be granted broad powers to seize and hold computers without due process and access an organization’s information and facilities in the event of an anticipated or actual cyber threat. The Cybersecurity Bill also introduced obligations for public and private organizations operating Critical Information Infrastructure in its current version. The Cybersecurity Bill would also allow the CSA to form a joint venture, which would allow it act as both a regulator and an operator, “which can create joint ventures and request financial loans for its operations,” according to the Bangkok Post (for more information, see our previous Update here).

As Thailand works to address emerging cybersecurity threats and bolster its technological capacity and infrastructure, it will be critical for these efforts to achieve the important goal of protecting citizens’ data without stifling innovation or jeopardizing data privacy and confidential information, such as trade secrets. The Cybersecurity Bill’s current punitive measures also impose heavy consequences to firms that cannot comply, which are prescribed in broad language. With concerns coming from various stakeholders, it may be likely that the Cybersecurity Bill’s more vague and heavy-handed language may be revised to strike an effective balance.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Technical Workshop on PDPB Implementation

On October 30, the Council, in partnership with AsiaDPO, hosted a technical workshop with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) and the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) within MDES, to discuss the implementation of the recently revised Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB). Workshop participants were primarily data protection officers or privacy experts that provided practical examples on how provisions of the PDPB would impact Thai citizens and consumers. The workshop directly follows a public hearing period for the PDPB, for which the Council submitted joint industry comments for on October 2. For more information on the workshop, or for a copy of the Council's joint submission on the PDPB, please contact Ella Duangkaew (eduangkaew@usean.org). 

Thailand's Innovation List

The Council has collected feedback and recommendations from members on how Thailand’s Innovation List affects U.S. healthcare companies. Introduced in 2015, the Innovation List includes products deemed to have been developed or improved through research and development by Thai majority-owned companies. Companies with healthcare products on the Innovation List are granted special government procurement privileges. For example, Thai public hospitals are mandated to spend at least 30 percent of their budget on Innovation List products without undergoing a public procurement process. Members’ input will be used to update the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and other stakeholders, and in our engagements with the Thai Government. If you have any questions, please contact Lucius Lee at llee@usasean.org.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

Regional Affairs
Thailand: Insurance institute to pave the way for business in neighbouring markets
Bilateral relations, security and Asean issues to take centrestage in Dr M's official visit to Bangkok

National Affairs
Prayut says ban on political activity to be lifted by December
Police general to lead Thailand's main opposition party
Slim majority say Prayut should not pursue politics: Nida Poll
Democrat contenders face off
Judges vote to oust member of the Judicial Commission
PM says World Economic Forum improves Thailand's standing in competitiveness index
Phalang Pracharat and Democrat parties continue activity as Thai Citizen Power Party announces
Senate selection committee not yet formed

Banking
Bank of Thailand weighs SME lending requirements
BOT to consider suggestions from developers, banks for home loan policy
Banks ride on robust export growth

Customs
Malaysia, Thailand cross-border trading to be round-the-clock, says Dr M

Defense & Security
Private use of military items to expand

Economics
FPO holds GDP growth at 4.5% on consumption uptick
Somkid unfazed by export snag
Specialist argues for LTF deductions


Energy
Thailand falls on energy slump, Singapore recovers
LED Expo Thailand Expands Its Panorama in the Year 2019
Switched on: Top electric power conference heads to Thailand

Food & Agriculture
Wildlife set to suffer from tourist road
Plan to link crops with foreign clients
Drought to extend in upper regions
Thailand aims to tap new export markets
Three palm oil proposals to target slump
Officials get orders to wean farmers off rice

Health & Life Sciences
Huge meth bust in Chiang Rai
Health activists demand govt halt all changes to ThaiHealth bill by Nov 18
Thai Government declares a three month "War on Drugs" in Thailand
HSRI grants ฿10mn to CU anti-cancer drug research team
‘Vaccine denial’ behind measles deaths in south Thailand

ICT
900MHz licence purchased by DTAC
Blockchain tech seen as a tool to curb corruption
SEC issues warning on renegade ICOs
AI, big data technology used in pilot project to ease Bangkok’s traffic congestion
GSB platform to pool small shop purchasing
The cybersecurity balancing act

Infrastructure
4 EEC projects worth B470bn get nod
PM mulls canal plan but army brooks no delay
Small investors own half of B45bn Thailand Future Fund
SCG reports nine-month revenue uptick
TFFIF largest IPO since 2015 on strong demand

Travel & Tourism
Stimulus package en route to cabinet
Tourism operators press for policy salve
Thailand's Phuket smartens up to bring tourists back

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Thailand: Insurance institute to pave the way for business in neighbouring markets Asia Insurance Review 26th Oct 2018
Thailand Insurance Institute (TII) has plans to provide training in neighbouring countries so as to pave the way for Thai insurance companies to do businesses in nearby markets. TII director Mr Tadthep Sujitjorn said the organisation will invite representatives of insurance companies in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) to join its education and seminar programmes on risk assessment, insurance products and business concepts. The programmes could be held either in Thailand or abroad, he said.

Bilateral relations, security and Asean issues to take centrestage in Dr M's official visit to Bangkok Yahoo! News 23rd Oct 2018
Bilateral and economic relations, trade, investment, security as well as Asean-related matters are set to be the key highlights of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's two-day official visit to Bangkok, which begins on Wednesday. The visit by the prime minister, his first to the kingdom since assuming the premiership for the second time, is also expected to present a golden opportunity for the goverment leadership in realigning common directions and goals between the two countries.

National Affairs

Prayut says ban on political activity to be lifted by December Bangkok Post 30th Oct 2018
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday a ban on political activity will be lifted by December in anticipation of a general election next year. The military government has imposed a strict ban on all political activity since a 2014 military coup, citing the need for peace and order after months of street protests against a civilian government of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Police general to lead Thailand's main opposition party Al Jazeera News 28th Oct 2018
The main political party that will oppose Thailand's ruling military government in elections planned for early next year has voted in its new leadership. Pheu Thai on Sunday named 86-year-old senior party member Viroj Pao-in, a police lieutenant general, as its official leader, while Putham Vechayaychai kept his role as secretary-general.

Slim majority say Prayut should not pursue politics: Nida Poll Bangkok Post 28th Oct 2018
A slight majority of people say Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha should not pursue a political career after the forthcoming general election tentatively set for early next year on the grounds that his performance has not been satisfactory, according to an opinion survey by the National Institute for Development Administration, or Nida Poll.

Democrat contenders face off Bangkok Post 27th Oct 2018
Three candidates vying for the Democrat Party's top post have promised to pursue economic policies that will help reduce income inequality and ensure growth is beneficial to the poor.

Judges vote to oust member of the Judicial Commission Bangkok Post 26th Oct 2018
Judges have voted in favour of impeaching a member of the Judicial Commission, Bankruptcy Court chief judge Chamnan Rawiwanpong, setting a precedent for the Courts of Justice. The counting of votes for the impeachment of Mr Chamnan began at 9.24am on Friday. The count ended at 11.11am. 

PM says World Economic Forum improves Thailand's standing in competitiveness index National News Bureau of Thailand 22nd Oct 2018
The Prime Minister has expressed satisfaction over Thailand’s improved standing on the World Economic Forum’s 4.0 competitiveness index for 2018, saying the results are a reflection of Thailand's approach to the 4.0 era. Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has voiced satisfaction that Thailand rose to 38th among 140 countries with a score of 67.5 out of 100 in this year’s World Economic Forum 4.0 Competitiveness Index. Last year the nation was in 40th place with a score of 66.3.

Phalang Pracharat and Democrat parties continue activity as Thai Citizen Power Party announces National News Bureau of Thailand 22nd Oct 2018
The Thai Citizen Power Party has held a major meeting, selecting eight additional party board members and 11 candidate selection committee members. The meeting was chaired by party leader Samphan Lersnuwat and announced that party members will soon be able to choose the party’s candidates to run in the upcoming general election. The party is to use an election process for the vote.

Senate selection committee not yet formed National News Bureau of Thailand 21st Oct 2018
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) hasn’t yet appointed a senate selection committee, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam. Wissanu said members of the upper house will be divided into three groups. The first group comprised of six individuals, will be appointed by the NCPO. While the second group is made up of 50 individuals from 20 professional groups.

Banking
Bank of Thailand weighs SME lending requirements Bangkok Post 27th Oct 2018
The Bank of Thailand is considering whether to allow banks to demand additional collateral to back loans extended to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are unable to fully comply with the single account scheme practice.

BOT to consider suggestions from developers, banks for home loan policy  The Nation 23rd Oct 2018
Participants emphasised the need to adjust the regulatory framework if they benefit the general image of the banks without significantly affecting the system. They hoped that customers will gain the most benefit from these proposals, the BOT’s executives said.  The BOT received suggestions and insights until October 22 from related parties with regard to measures to regulate home loans.  The BOT plans to consider the suggestions and announce measures by November, which will be effective from January 1, 2019 onwards, Sakkapop Panyanukul, director of financial stability unit at the BOT, said.

Banks ride on robust export growth The Nation 22nd Oct 2018
Ten commercial banks last week reported a combined net profit of Bt163.61 billion for the first nine months, representing a 11.44-percent growth from the same period last year, due mainly to the country’s robust export performance and buoyant domestic demand. Eight of the 10 announced single and double-digit growth respectively, led by the 54-percent surge of TMB Bank to Bt9.9 billion net profit for the first three quarters.

Customs

Malaysia, Thailand cross-border trading to be round-the-clock, says Dr M Malay Mail 24th Oct 2018
Malaysia and Thailand have agreed to open up their borders for 24-hour cross-border trading, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced today. Putrajaya will also be constructing two bridges connecting Kelantan to the border to encourage the trade, he told a joint press conference with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at Thailand’s Government House here.

Defense & Security

Private use of military items to expand Bangkok Post 26th Oct 2018
The Defence Council has approved a bill to control the use of military products by private businesses seeking to import, manufacture, and/or possess such products. Defence spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich said the council, chaired by Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, has given a green light to the draft law following an increase in commercial use of military products.

Economics

FPO holds GDP growth at 4.5% on consumption uptick Bangkok Post 30th Oct 2018
The Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) is maintaining its forecast for the country's economic growth at 4.5% as private consumption picks up and investment counters sagging global demand. Private consumption and investment are gaining momentum, in tandem with the falling unemployment rate and higher farm income as crop output rises, said fiscal policy adviser Warotai Kosolpisitkul.

Somkid unfazed by export snag Bangkok Post 23rd Oct 2018
The government remains adamant the country's overall exports will exceed 8% growth as targeted despite shipments falling 5.2% year-on-year in September, the first dip in 19 months. Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said on Monday he still believes Thailand's exports will meet the target if the country can earn more than US$20 billion (655 trillion baht) a month in the final three months of the year.

Specialist argues for LTF deductions Bangkok Post 20th Oct 2018
A move to end the tax deductions for long-term equity funds (LTFs) could severely affect Thailand's stock market as the global stock market bull run is poised to dissipate in 2020, says a mutual fund specialist. The outlook is backed by a lower amount of monetary stimulus measures implemented by global central banks and the rising interest rate outlook, said Voravan Tarapoom, chairwoman of the executive board at BBL Asset Management and honorary chairwoman of the Association of Investment Management Companies.

Energy

Thailand falls on energy slump, Singapore recovers Reuters 24th Oct 2018
Thai shares fell nearly 1% on Wednesday as the country's energy sector came under pressure after oil prices slumped overnight, while shares in Singapore pulled back from the previous day's losses.

LED Expo Thailand Expands Its Panorama in the Year 2019 Led Inside 23rd Oct 2018
With passing years, LED Expo Thailand has evolved much to touch new heights, offering limitless business opportunities, the organisers have decided to add another feather to the cap by introducing a new chapter, labeled as Light ASEAN in the 7th edition of the unrivalled exhibition.

Switched on: Top electric power conference heads to Thailand AEC News 19th Oct 2018
The Power and Energy Society (PES), which bills itself as the the world’s largest forum for the electric power industry, is literally counting the days, hours, minutes and seconds before its Grand International Conference and Exposition is held for the first time outside of the United States.

Food & Agriculture

Wildlife set to suffer from tourist road Bangkok Post 27th Oct 2018
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation says it will meet soon with 14 organisations to discuss ways of resolving an impasse over a project to restore a road cutting through Thailand's largest national park.

Plan to link crops with foreign clients Bangkok Post 27th Oct 2018
The Commerce Ministry will restructure the working system to address low crop prices by connecting Thai farmers with global markets in a bid to boost rural economic growth. Provincial commerce offices will work with Thai overseas trade centres to provide access to export markets, said Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong.

Drought to extend in upper regions Bangkok Post 26th Oct 2018
The Department of Royal Irrigation (DRI) says there will be enough water for harvesting in the dry season, but the drought will continue in the northern regions. "The water situation this year is better than last year. So, there will be enough water for rice plantations in the Chao Phraya River basin despite the expansion of rice harvesting in the basin zone," said Thongplew Kongchan, secretary-general of the DRI.

Thailand aims to tap new export markets The Nation 24th Oct 2018
The Commerce Ministry intends to turn a crisis into opportunity by tapping new markets that have emerged as a result of the escalating US-China trade war. The ministry aims to push exports to the United States through food diplomacy while also aiming to boost its food and agricultural exports to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV). The export growth target for 2018 has been set at 8 per cent.

Three palm oil proposals to target slump Bangkok Post 23rd Oct 2018
The Commerce Ministry is proposing three measures to the cabinet over the next few weeks to tackle the domestic oil palm price slump. The ministry also plans to call a joint meeting with modern trade operators to scrap sales promotions for bottled palm oil for cooking.

Officials get orders to wean farmers off rice The Nation 22nd Oct 2018
Agriculture Minister Grisada Boonrach has ordered officials to proceed with a corn-growing promotion scheme under the government’s San Palang Pracharat public-private partnership initiative. Moving ahead now would help achieve Grisada’s goal of having rice farmers switch from off-season rice this year to instead growing corn for animal feed on 2 million rai of land in 33 target provinces. 

Health & Life Sciences

Huge meth bust in Chiang Rai Bangkok Post 30th Oct 2018
A total of 14.6 million methamphetamine tablets were seized in a crackdown on drug trafficking carried out on a road running along the Mekong River in Wiang Kaen district of Chiang Rai in the early hours of Monday. The operation was carried out by a combined force of military rangers, soldiers, officers from the Mekong Riverine Unit of the navy and local administrative officials at about 1.30am following a report that a major drug smuggling operation was being planned in this Thai-Lao border area.

Health activists demand govt halt all changes to ThaiHealth bill by Nov 18 The Nation 30th Oct 2018
Health activists are threatening to rally outside Government House if a new bill – seen as a risk to the heart of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) operations – is pushed through. They have also given an ultimatum, saying Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn or Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha have until November 18 to stop moves to change the current ThaiHealth law. 

Thai Government declares a three month "War on Drugs" in Thailand The Pattaya News 26th Oct 2018
The government has decided to declare war on narcotic drugs across the country with an expectation of positive result in three months. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan on Thursday called a high-level meeting of relevant agencies, including the military, the Internal Security Operations Command, Justice Ministry, Interior Ministry, Foreign Ministry and the police for discussion on cooperation between all agencies ranging from information sharing to suppression operations, separation of responsibilities and strengthening of local communities to prevent drug abuses among their people.

HSRI grants ฿10mn to CU anti-cancer drug research team National News Bureau of Thailand 23rd Oct 2018
The Health Systems Research Institute (HSRI) joined a fundraising drive to help a team of researchers at Chulalongkorn University (CU) continue their 1.5-billion-baht project to develop a new anti-cancer drug. The project aims to develop an anti-cancer drug in a bid to replace costly imported medicines.

‘Vaccine denial’ behind measles deaths in south Thailand The Star Online 19th Oct 2018
The “vaccine denial” common in some Muslim communities has contributed to the deaths of at least six patients, including children, during a measles outbreak in the far South.

ICT

900MHz licence purchased by DTAC Bangkok Post 29th Oct 2018
Total Access Communication (DTAC) subsidiary DTAC TriNet won a 900 megahertz licence for 38.06 billion baht, in a sole bidder auction Sunday. The nation's third largest telecom company was left alone to bid after its bigger rivals -- Advanced Info Service (AIS) and True -- stayed out as they had already secured 900MHz licences.

Blockchain tech seen as a tool to curb corruption The Nation 28th Oct 2018
Experts and social entrepreneurs have placed high hopes on benefiting from the advanced blockchain technology that would be able to play a major role in curbing corruption and enhancing transparency in social justice. “Blockchain could be used to promote transparency of information for anti-corruption and to increase the power of investigation,” said Torplus Yomnak, founder of Hands Social Enterprise. “Blockchain could be used to promote transparency of information for anti-corruption and to increase the power of investigation,” said Torplus Yomnak, founder of Hands Social Enterprise. He was speaking at a seminar last week organised by Thailand Institute of Justice on “Blockchain technology for transparency and accountability”.

SEC issues warning on renegade ICOs Bangkok Post 27th Oct 2018
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned the public about investing in nine digital tokens and initial coin offerings (ICOs) that have not been authorised by the market regulator. An SEC investigation found that there have been posts on social media platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube, publicly promoting investment in digital assets and ICO offerings.

AI, big data technology used in pilot project to ease Bangkok’s traffic congestion Thai PBS World 23rd Oct 2018
Four main roads in Bangkok are included in a five-year pilot project aimed at easing traffic congestion in the capital with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytical technology. The pilot project is part of the Communication Ministry’s “Sustainable Mobility Project”, which is cooperation between the ministry, educational institutions and a number of the private sector, said Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith. The roads included into the pilot project are Rama IV, Sukhumvit, Charoen Krung and the road around the Victory Monument, he said.

GSB platform to pool small shop purchasing Bangkok Post 23rd Oct 2018
State-owned Government Savings Bank (GSB) aims to attract 60,000 small shops and One Tambon One Product companies to participate in its sponsored online-to-offline (O2O) e-commerce platform to raise their bargaining power in purchasing goods from manufacturers. O2O-Village Grocery, sponsored by GSB, enables participating merchants to offer both online and offline sales channels through smartphones, tablets and point-of-sale (POS), with the bank taking responsibility for payments and settlements via debit and credit cards, QR code mobile banking and e-wallets, said GSB president and chief executive Chatchai Payuhanaveechai.

The cybersecurity balancing act Bangkok Post 22nd Oct 2018
The draft cybersecurity bill, which is yet to be completed, is being promoted as an attempt to expand Thailand's cybersecurity infrastructure, protect national security interests and crack down on cybercrime. Growing public backlash against the bill is causing tremors both online and offline because of concerns over the abuse of power and data privacy breaches.

Infrastructure

4 EEC projects worth B470bn get nod Bangkok Post 31st Oct 2018
The cabinet has endorsed four infrastructure investment projects worth a combined 470 billion baht under the government's flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme. The projects were approved by the EEC Policy Committee on Oct 4 and endorsed at a mobile cabinet meeting on Tuesday in the northern province.

PM mulls canal plan but army brooks no delay Bangkok Post 30th Oct 2018
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) and Office of the National Security Council (NSC) to look into a proposed canal project connecting the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea.

Small investors own half of B45bn Thailand Future Fund Bangkok Post 22nd Oct 2018
The 44.7-billion-baht Thailand Future Fund (TFFIF), an infrastructure fund launched by the government, has drawn overwhelming interest from the public, according to the Finance Ministry. Of the total value, 2.88 billion units were bought by the public in 41,200 bookings, averaging 700,000 baht each, said Prapas Kong-Ied, director of the State Enterprise Policy Office under the ministry.

SCG reports nine-month revenue uptick Bangkok Post 25th Oct 2018
SET-listed Siam Cement Group (SCG), Thailand's biggest cement maker and industrial conglomerate, is concerned about the impact of the tariff war and uncertainties in the global economy, aiming to revise the investment plan for 2019. The company plans to spend roughly 40-50 billion baht this year and 50-60 billion baht in 2019. This move comes after operating results for the first nine months this year saw higher revenue but lower profit.

TFFIF largest IPO since 2015 on strong demand Bangkok Post 23rd Oct 2018
Thailand Future Fund (TFFIF) has offered IPO units at the top end of the proposed range with some 4.47 billion to raise 44.7 billion baht, emerging as the country's largest public listing since 2015. With the strong demand, the fund's first-year return stands at 4.75%, said Varah Sucharitakul, executive director at Finansa Securities.

Travel & Tourism

Stimulus package en route to cabinet Bangkok Post 26th Oct 2018
A tourism stimulus package, expected to include visa-fee exemptions for some countries and improved safety and security, will soon go before the cabinet so that the measures can be effective from next month. The stimulus package is aimed at drawing foreign travellers to Thailand during the peak season after the recent sharp decline in Chinese tourists, who make up roughly one-third of arrivals.

Tourism operators press for policy salve Bangkok Post 22nd Oct 2018
Tourism business leaders have called for the government to use measures and campaigns to boost tourism from other markets if there is no concrete plan to reclaim arrivals from China. Despite several discussions with tourism authorities over the drop in the Chinese market in recent weeks, operators have not yet found a solution.

Thailand's Phuket smartens up to bring tourists back Nikkei Asian Review 20th Oct 2018
reeling from a deadly boat accident this summer, Thailand's Phuket Island is using "smart" technologies to tackle issues like safety and traffic in an effort to get back on track amid the Southeast Asian tourism boom. The international tourist destination has seen tourist traffic drop off after two boats capsized in July, killing dozens. It is trying to reshape its image by using the latest technology to prevent accidents and crime.