Thailand Update: November 15, 2018

Thailand Update | November 15, 2018
Authors: Riley Smith, Ella Duangkaew and Monica Chritton
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
December 4-6, 2018: 2018 Business Mission to the 18th ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting
We are now registering senior level executives for our Business Mission to the 18th ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting (TELMIN) taking place Tuesday 4 December to Thursday, 6 December, 2018 in Ubud, Indonesia. To register, please click here.
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Thailand Considering Amendment to the Customs Act and New Export Controls for WMD

At the end of September, Thailand held public hearings on a first tranche of amendments to the 2017 Customs Act. The consultation proposes 17 changes to the law, which can be found in the consultation document at this link. Most of these are small changes to processes for quarantine orders, certain goods seizures, freeze orders, clearance and payments of duties, bonded warehouses, transshipment, and violation penalties. More notably, it clearly defines the language on the duty assessment period in Section 19, which had previously seen varying interpretations.

The Department of Foreign Trade is also developing a new export controls law, the Act on Control of Weapons of Mass Destruction for the National Legislative Assembly. After the law is completed, regulations will follow it to describe goods that will require licensing or be subject to self-certification. Thailand is also preparing a new regulation on export controls for dual-use items for a January 1, 2019 implementation, following several delays. The Council previously covered the dual-use export controls regulation in October 2017 before it was delayed (update accessible here). With additional export control rules in the pipeline, companies should watch for additional changes on dual-use exports from Thailand and potential new opportunities to obtain export licenses from the USG to export dual use products to Thailand.

Thailand Cabinet to Discuss Establishing National Health Policy Commission

The Thailand Ministry of Public Health recently sought the Cabinet’s approval on a bill to establish a national health policy commission led by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, despite doubts about its usefulness and concerns about how its responsibilities could overlap with existing Ministries and agencies.

The establishment of a national health policy commission could lead to a restructuring of Thailand’s the public health system including changes to many institutions and government functions. If established, the commission would be granted full power to enact and govern public health policies, a function currently managed by the existing National Health Commission, which is also led by the Prime Minister. The commission would be authorized to scrutinize key health policies, including those concerning personnel and budget management, before submitting them to the Cabinet. Earlier this month, the Cabinet met to discuss the bill but did not disclose details of those discussions. However, the Secretariat of the Cabinet has questioned whether such a commission duplicates the functions of the existing National Health Commission.

The proposed commission would comprise 45 experts and representatives from the private and public sectors. The relatively high number of members is to ensure that the commission’s composition reflects a variety of interests. However, various state agencies have voiced concerns over the makeup and power of the commission. Furthermore, the Council of State is wary of the commission’s potential power to influence budgetary plans and public health. The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is also worried the commission may have the power to encroach in its area of responsibility and amend environmental protection laws when considering existing public health policies.

Thailand Sets Later Date for First ASEAN Summit in 2019, in Line with Deputy Prime Minister’s Projected Timeline for Elections

As Thailand prepares to become Chair of ASEAN in 2019, it is also supposed to be gearing up for a general election. Although the date of the polls has not yet been announced, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngarm has said that a new government should be in office by early June, which would be enough time to prepare for a first ASEAN Summit in 2019. The Nikkei Asian Review reports that Thailand has broken norms by setting June 22 and 23 as the first ASEAN Summit for 2019. For the last decade, first meetings of bi-annual ASEAN summits have been held in April or May. If an election is held in February, a June summit would leave time for a new government to organize. 

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu also said that the Elections Commission (EC) can only announce an election date after the law on election of MPs – the final organic law on elections that needs to be passed for elections to move forward – goes into effect on December 11. The Deputy Prime Minister noted that the ban on political activities should be lifted in December, as well. According to the Deputy Prime Minister’s statements, a potential timeline for elections events could be as follows:

  • December 11: Law for election of MPs comes into effect, meaning election must occur within 150 days after this date;
  • December 16-17: EC holds voting for senators, accompanied by lifting of the ban on political activities;
  • December 17: EC to select election date deadline, 5th day after election of MPs law comes into force;
  • January 2: EC to submit shortlist of 200 potential senators to the current administration, and out of these the National Council on Peace and Order (NCPO) will select 50;
  • May 9: Election deadline, 150th day after December 11 law comes into force;
  • January 2: EC submits short list of potential senators;
  • February 24: General election: 350 constituency MPs, 150 party list MPs;
  • April 24: Deadline for formal election results, 60 days after polling day;
  • April 27: NCPO to submit list of senators for royal endorsement;
  • Early May, within 15 days of election result: National Legislative Assembly (NLA) term ends, NCPO ceases to exist after PM and cabinet are sworn in.

However, these dates are still unconfirmed, and the current administration has delayed elections six times since the current government came to power in a coup in May 2014, leading to high levels of skepticism that the polls will actually be held. Nevertheless, the announcement of an unprecedented delay of the first ASEAN Summit in 2019 and a potential timeline with several different administrative deadlines specified lend credence to the possibility that the Thai government will actually move forward with the election as proposed. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha continues to reaffirm that elections will take place in February, if possible, an asserted that he most recently repeated in an October meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Other political parties have also taken important steps in preparation of a potential election, another indication of a general expectation that there is a greater chance that the polls will be held in early 2019 than in previous years. This past weekend, former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva retained his leadership of the Democrat Party, while in September four Ministers formed the Palang Pracharat party. Pheu Thai, which is linked to former Prime Minister Thanksin Shinawatra, selected its leader, Viroj Pao-in, at the end of October. Bloomberg reports that examination of these key parties reflects “deep fissures in Thai society between urban royalists, known as the so-called yellow shirts, and Thaksin and his rural support base, the red shirts.”

While these developments seem to increase the likelihood of a 2019 election, it must be noted that certain factors could lead to a delay of the election again, most particularly the yet-unscheduled coronation, or the Queen’s declining health. Either of these factors could override the current election deadline of May 5, as the NCPO has indicated that a stable government would be needed to oversee these important developments. These factors could also draw government attention away from ASEAN Chairmanship activities, and potentially lead to further delays in key ASEAN events, like the Summit. Both factors are highly unpredictable, and the Thai Government will need to quickly reformulate new timelines for both elections and the ASEAN Chairmanship if either take precedence.   

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

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 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 to push for bigger Asean role in Rohingya crisis
Prayut pledges to push for connectivity when Thailand takes over Asean chair next year
China to create trade zone with Thailand and Laos as tariffs bite
PM to prioritise Asean sustainability

National Affairs
EC won't delay poll, promises Wissanu
Mobile centres to offer election 'education'
Hearings start for same-sex marriage bill
Smart visa conditions revised for experts
Law makes PM's return bid trickier
60 days 'long enough' for campaigning
Wissanu outlines political timeline that could see new government in May
EC to consult Foreign Ministry on EU request to monitor February election 
PM to resolve assets rule row

Banking
Bank of Thailand holds key rate steady as exports and tourism slow
SME Bank targets micros for new lending in 2019
SCB downgrades SME loan view

Customs
US cuts GSP on 11 Thai products

Defense & Security
Singapore-Thailand Military Ties in the Spotlight With Defense Chief Visit

Energy
Thailand utility eyes 1GW of floating solar on hydro dams, pilots energy storage
Energy-hungry Thailand eyeing Russian LNG imports
ERC raising Ft rate by 1.2% to cover higher fuel costs

Food & Agriculture
Thailand, Japan break bread
Excise wants levy on salty, fatty ingredients
Labor Minister discusses measures to address labor shortage in fishery sector
GSB app targets farmers
Rice export competition tightens

Health & Life Sciences
Thailand to be Asia's first to enforce plain cigarette packs
Anxiety mounts over nuclear waste found in Laem Chabang Port
Hospitals may have to list prices online
NLA forwards marijuana bill
Eyes turn to Council of State as legalisation of marijuana hits snag
No-smoking zones grow
Muslim concern about vaccine fuels Thai measles outbreak
Thailand, Japan ink elders care development study deal
Radiation law delays at NLA irk dentists
Spearheading digital health initiatives in Thailand with the Khon Kaen Smart Health project
World Health Organization Certifies Thailand’s Anti-Retrovirus HIV Drug Efavirenz

ICT
Thailand Govt Eyes Blockchain To Track Taxes
Thailand Uses Blockchain-Supported Electronic Voting System in Primaries
SET readies digital plan
Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Calls for More Cryptocurrency Regulations
Singapore and Thailand QR Payments Will Soon Be Standardised
Panel OKs draft on spectrum recall, including compensation
First ICO portal en route

Infrastructure
CP consortium submits bid for high-speed rail project in Thailand
Traffic project tipped to cause chaos
BTS, CP consortia enter bid for airport train project
Human resources added to EEC S-curve target industries
BMTA set to welcome new NGV bus fleet
Terminal 2 at U-Tapao airport to be fully opened in February
Flat rate monthly taxi fare plan for unlimited trips
IATA wants faster work on runways

Travel & Tourism
Thailand waives visa-on-arrival fee for tourists
Michelin Announces 2019 Stars for Bangkok, Phuket, and Phang-nga
Opening the gates to salvage tourism
Tourists warned of e-cigarette fines

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Thailand to push for bigger Asean role in Rohingya crisis The Nation 14th Nov 2018
Thailand is ready to support a greater Asean role in resolving the Rakhine crisis, as the group prepared mechanisms to deal with the plight of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who face repatriation amid grave concerns about their future.

Prayut pledges to push for connectivity when Thailand takes over Asean chair next year The Straits Times 13th Nov 2018
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha vowed yesterday to push for connectivity among Asean members to strengthen business and investments when Thailand takes over as Asean’s chair next year. “It is a great honour for Thailand to assume the chairmanship of Asean in 2019 after Singapore,” he said in his keynote speech in Thai on the second and final day of the Asean Business and Investment Summit held at Marina Bay Sands convention centre.

China to create trade zone with Thailand and Laos as tariffs bite Nikkei Asian Review 12th Nov 2018
As the trade war with the U.S. intensifies, China is looking to strengthen commercial ties with countries in the Mekong region of Southeast Asia by setting up a free-trade zone on the border between Thailand and Laos. In the planned zone, Beijing will waive tariffs and value-added tax on imports from countries that do not share a border with China.

PM to prioritise Asean sustainability Bangkok Post 9th Nov 2018
Based on the themes of resilience and innovation, Thailand is preparing to make sustainability more of a priority for Asean as the kingdom prepares to chair the regional bloc next year. Suriya Chindawongse, director-general of the Department of Asean Affairs, said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will attend the 33rd Asean Summit and related summits in Singapore, the incumbent chair, from Nov 13-15.

National Affairs

EC won't delay poll, promises Wissanu Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2018
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Tuesday there was no reason to delay the general election again and it will proceed as planned. It has tentatively been scheduled for Feb 24. Reacting to fears the Election Commission (EC) could throw a spanner in the works as it has not finished redrawing constituency boundaries, he said the demarcation process would not jeopardise the election roadmap.

Mobile centres to offer election 'education' Bangkok Post 13th Nov 2018
A mobile Damrongtham government complaint centre will hit the road and visit villages in the provinces to educate local communities about election law and the poll roadmap, according to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). "The country is moving into the pre-election period and people need to prepare for the poll expected to be held on Feb 24 next year," said NCPO deputy spokeswoman Sirichan Ngathong.

Hearings start for same-sex marriage bill Bangkok Post 12th Nov 2018
The Justice Ministry has started public hearings on the same-sex marriage bill to be submitted to the cabinet this month and its online survey has found no direct objection. Justice Vice Minister Pongsatorn Sajjacholapan opened the public hearing at Miracle Grand Convention Hotel in Bangkok on Monday. He said the bill would legalise the marriage life of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.

Smart visa conditions revised for experts Bangkok Post 12th Nov 2018
The Board of Investment (BoI) is ready to announce new conditions and incentives for the smart visa for overseas experts in an attempt to transfer technology and know-how to the country's industrial sector and encourage foreign startups to move to Thailand. The government introduced the smart visa programme in February, designed to encourage highly skilled professionals and talent to work and invest in targeted industries in the EEC.

Law makes PM's return bid trickier Bangkok Post 12th Nov 2018
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha cannot canvass for votes if he wants to stage a comeback as a prime ministerial candidate on the ticket of any party, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said. Mr Wissanu said Sunday that if any party names Gen Prayut as one of its three prime ministerial candidates for the next general election, the law bars him from taking part in any campaigning or canvassing for that party while serving as prime minister.

60 days 'long enough' for campaigning Bangkok Post 10th Nov 2018
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon insisted political parties will have about 60 days for election campaigning after the ban on political activities is lifted. The 60-day period for campaigning should be long enough when compared to the campaign for the 2011 election called by former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, which lasted only 49 days, said Gen Prawit, who concurrently serves as defence minister.

Wissanu outlines political timeline that could see new government in May Thai PBS World 8th Nov 2018
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngarm on Thursday offered the clearest political timeline yet for the next six months that will lead to a general election on February 24, 2019 and the appointment of the next prime minister and the forming of a new government two months after that. Wissanu said the Election Commission will announce a promulgation of the Royal Decree for the election of members of the parliament between December 16-27 simultaneously to be accompanied by the lifting of political restrictions by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

EC to consult Foreign Ministry on EU request to monitor February election  EC to consult Foreign Ministry on EU request to monitor February election 8th Nov 2018
EC to consult Foreign Ministry on EU request to monitor February election  The Election Commission will have to consult relevant agencies, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, before it can decide whether or not to allow the European Union to send observers to monitor the election next February, said EC chairman Itthiporn Boonprakong on Thursday.

PM to resolve assets rule row Bangkok Post 7th Nov 2018
The government will resolve the controversy surrounding a new regulation announced by the anti-graft agency that requires senior civil servants to declare their assets and liabilities, according to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Gen Prayut said Tuesday he had ordered Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam to discuss a solution to the regulation and its effect on civil servants with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

Banking

Bank of Thailand holds key rate steady as exports and tourism slow Nikkei Asian Review 14th Nov 2018
The Bank of Thailand kept its key interest rate unchanged at 1.5% on Wednesday, concerned about sluggishness in the economy's two main drivers, exports and tourism.

SME Bank targets micros for new lending in 2019 Bangkok Post 12th Nov 2018
The state-owned Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand (SME Bank) aims to offer as much as 90% of new loans next year to micro SMEs. The bank plans to offer 32 billion baht in new loans to micro SMEs out of its full-year target of 35 billion baht, said president Mongkol Leelatham.

SCB downgrades SME loan view Bangkok Post 9th Nov 2018
Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) expects to fall short of its 7% growth target for small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) loans this year. The bank estimates that SME lending will expand by a mere 3% in 2018 after loan growth at the end of September was less than 1% from the end of last year, said Pikun Srimahunt, senior executive vice-president for the SME segment.

Customs

US cuts GSP on 11 Thai products The Nation 2nd Nov 2018
Based on the US announcement of its Annual GSP Product Review for 2017 on Tuesday, the cut in GSP will appy to 15 countries: Argentina, Belize, Bosnia, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, Falkland, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Suriname, Turkey, India to Thailand. Adul Chotinisakorn, director-general of the Department of Foreign Trade, said that GSP on these Thai products or about 1.11 per cent of Thailand's GSP claim were cut due to their excessive exports of over US$180 million in value or a market share of 50 per cent for each product, in line with the Competitive Need Limit (CNLs) defined by the US. The GSP cut took effect from yesterday (Nov 1).

Defense & Security

Singapore-Thailand Military Ties in the Spotlight With Defense Chief Visit The Diplomat 14th Nov 2018
Last week, Thailand’s chief of defense forces paid his introductory visit to Singapore under his current position. The trip, along with the interactions therein, once again underscored the defense ties underway between the two Southeast Asian states, amid broader domestic and regional changes.

Energy

Thailand utility eyes 1GW of floating solar on hydro dams, pilots energy storage PV Tech 14th Nov 2018
State-run utility Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) is planning to facilitate 1GW of hybrid floating solar-hydro projects across eight dams throughout the country. Thepparat Theppitak, deputy governor, power plant development and renewable energy, EGAT, announced the plans at the ASEAN Solar + Storage Congress & Expo in Manila, the Philippines, organised by Leader Associates.

Energy-hungry Thailand eyeing Russian LNG imports RT International 14th Nov 2018
Russian companies are interested in supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the Thai market, according to the Russian Energy Ministry. Moscow and Bangkok have a long track record of energy cooperation.

ERC raising Ft rate by 1.2% to cover higher fuel costs Bangkok Post 9th Nov 2018
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will increase the monthly electric rate for January-April 2019 to 3.64 baht per kilowatt-hour, up 1.2% from 3.60 baht in the September-December period. Power bills have been stable over the previous four periods from September 2017 to December 2018, making it the first rise in 16 months, said ERC secretary-general Naruepat Amornkosit.

Food & Agriculture

Thailand, Japan break bread Bangkok Post 13th Nov 2018
Thai and Japanese governments are expected to soon launch the Mie-Thailand Innovation Centre for the local food industry, aiming to develop and increase value of Thai products. Japan is interested in R&D for Thai rice and will use this new centre to cooperate with the National Food Institute in Bangkok, which is located adjacent to the new centre.

Excise wants levy on salty, fatty ingredients Bangkok Post 9th Nov 2018
The Excise Department plans to tax ingredients that are sources of salt as part of efforts to impose levies against products that are harmful to health, its chief says. Processed foods will not be taxed because it would not comply with the tax fairness principle if frozen foods are subject to the tax while the same foods freshly cooked by vendors are exempt, said Patchara Anuntasilpa, director-general of the Excise Department.

Labor Minister discusses measures to address labor shortage in fishery sector National News Bureau of Thailand 8th Nov 2018
The Labor Minister, Pol. Gen. Adul Sangsingkeo, and officials from related agencies had a meeting on Thursday to follow up on measures to address the labor shortage in the fishery sector of Thailand. The meeting was attended by officials from the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Health, the Royal Thai Police, and the National Fisheries Association of Thailand. The participants discussed operational guidelines and additional measures, ensuring that their work will progress smoothly.

GSB app targets farmers The Nation 14th Nov 2018
The Finance Ministry is to give struggling senior citizens rental subsidies and the Government Savings Bank (GSB) is also planning support farmers via a phone application. Narumon Pinyosinwat, vice finance minister, said on Wednesday that the ministry was considering offering rental grants for senior citizens whose children do not take care of them and have no home. The financial support would be the latest grant to support the poor under the state welfare card. Currently, the government gives monthly financial support to 11.4 million people, including 3.9 million senior citizens. Chatchai Payuhanaveechai, GSB president, also said that the bank has developed the 020 E-Commerce Platform app. This was part of the bank's efforts to assist farmers to access markets directly.

Rice export competition tightens Bangkok Post 10th Nov 2018
Thailand's rice exporters can expect fiercer competition next year as major buying nations reduce purchases and rice-exporting countries beef up their shipments. Charoen Laothammatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said India is forecast to retain leadership in global rice exports in 2019, followed by Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, Myanmar and the US. China, he said, is also expected to become a key player in the world rice market in the year to come, given the mainland's massive stockpiles.

Health & Life Sciences

Thailand to be Asia's first to enforce plain cigarette packs Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2018
The Public Health Ministry on Wednesday approved a draft regulation requiring plain cigarette packaging, and will also change the compulsory pictures reinforcing the warning that smoking is hazardous to health. Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said the approval came from the ministry's national tobacco control committee, which he chairs.

Anxiety mounts over nuclear waste found in Laem Chabang Port The Nation 11th Nov 2018
The Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP) and the Port Authority of Thailand have said the radioactive waste was safely retrieved from the seaport in Chonburi yesterday, but there has been no detailed information about radioactive material detected inside an export container holding scrap aluminium.

Hospitals may have to list prices online Bangkok Post 10th Nov 2018
The Internal Trade Department will ask private hospitals to post their prices online to encourage greater transparency and competition, a senior official said on Friday. Prayoth Benyasut, the department's deputy director-general, said the proposed measure is intended to stop overcharging amid growing concerns over the high cost of private medical care.

NLA forwards marijuana bill Bangkok Post 10th Nov 2018
The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) sent its 17-section marijuana draft bill which outlines the uses of cannabis for medical purposes to the government, kicking off the first step to partially legalising the narcotic. The draft, proposed by 44 NLA members, follows the same stance as a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) narcotic control panel which convened yesterday to consider the issue. It resolved that it first needs to get the nod from the government's legal advisory body, the Council of State, on some legal complications before going ahead with its push.

Eyes turn to Council of State as legalisation of marijuana hits snag The Nation 10th Nov 2018
The Narcotics Control Committee will seek further input before deciding whether to reclassify marijuana, which is now a prohibited narcotic, to enable its use for medical purposes. “We have resolved to consult the Council of State first,” the committee’s chairman Pisit Sriprasert said on Friday, after emerging from the committee’s meeting.

No-smoking zones grow Bangkok Post 7th Nov 2018
The Public Health Ministry will soon enforce bans in 81 newly listed no-smoking zones, including airport terminals, ATMs and hotel lobbies -- but smoking areas will still be allowed in some zones.

Muslim concern about vaccine fuels Thai measles outbreak ABC News 6th Nov 2018
Health authorities in Thailand are racing to contain a measles outbreak in the country's southern provinces, where 14 deaths and more than 1,500 cases have been reported since September.

Thailand, Japan ink elders care development study deal Vietnam Plus 6th Nov 2018
The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) of Thailand has signed an agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to study the healthcare system for the elderly.

Radiation law delays at NLA irk dentists Bangkok Post 5th Nov 2018
The Dental Council is threatening to renew moves against the new Radiation and Nuclear Regulation Act, saying draft amendments to the law have not been deliberated by the National Legislative Assembly...

Spearheading digital health initiatives in Thailand with the Khon Kaen Smart Health project Healthcare IT News 4th Nov 2018
Slated to be completed in 2019, the first-of-its kind Khon Kaen Smart Health project is a collaboration between local hospitals, businesses and academia with support from government agencies.

World Health Organization Certifies Thailand’s Anti-Retrovirus HIV Drug Efavirenz The Chiang Rai Times 3rd Nov 2018
The locally made product is marketed at 180 baht per bottle of 30 600mg tablets, while the imported product retailes at more than 1,000 baht per bottle.

ICT

Thailand Govt Eyes Blockchain To Track Taxes PYMNTS.com 14th Nov 2018
Last week, Thailand’s Revenue Department was reported to be bringing blockchain projects into the fold to track tax payments, aided by machine learning. As reported in Asia Times, blockchain technology will be used to help stanch tax avoidance and track refunds, among other activities.

Thailand Uses Blockchain-Supported Electronic Voting System in Primaries Bitcoin Magazine 13th Nov 2018
Thailand's Democrat Party has become the first political party to use blockchain technology to elect its leaders in a primary election, which was held from November 1–9, 2018. In a live e-voting system, more than 120,000 party faithful cast their votes in a transparent way that saw former Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva winning his party nomination with 67,505 votes.

Singapore and Thailand QR Payments Will Soon Be Standardised Fintech Singapore 12th Nov 2018
Thanks to a partnership signed between NETS and ITMX, Thailand’s interbank payment infrastructure, Thai mobile wallet users will soon be able to scan the NETS QR Code and NETS Pay Users in turn will also be able to scan the Thai Standardised QR Code.

SET readies digital plan Bangkok Post 10th Nov 2018
The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) is studying a plan to jump-start the digital asset ecosystem, aiming to integrate traditional and digital exchanges and attract new fund-raising schemes via a new trading platform. With the rising popularity of digital assets and cryptocurrency exchanges, global bourses have recognised that these could disrupt traditional securities trading if there is no plan to handle such disruption.

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Calls for More Cryptocurrency Regulations CCN 10th Nov 2018
The Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Wissanu Krea-ngam, has called for the enhancement of cryptocurrency regulations in the country. Speaking during the fourth regional Counter-Terrorism Financing Summit which took place in Bangkok, Wissanu argued that there was a need for more domestic and international legal measures to be put in place to prevent the misuse of cryptocurrencies.

Panel OKs draft on spectrum recall, including compensation Bangkok Post 8th Nov 2018
The telecom committee of the communications watchdog approved a regulatory draft on Wednesday on the recall of unused spectrum for auctions to serve future 5G adoption. The board of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will hold a meeting on Nov 20 for official approval, aiming to put the regulation into effect on Dec 1. The draft is in line with Section 27 of the amended Frequency Allocation Act, effective since June. The section states that the regulator must recall spectrum slots, many of them held by state agencies with inefficient usage, to be reallocated via auction.

First ICO portal en route Bangkok Post 8th Nov 2018
The first initial coin offering (ICO) portal is likely to be certified this month, with the first authorised ICO offering possibly in December, says the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). "At least one ICO portal will be certified in November, then we can approve each ICO offering, which might start in December," said SEC secretary-general Rapee Sucharitakul.

Infrastructure

CP consortium submits bid for high-speed rail project in Thailand Global Railway Review 14th Nov 2018
Adiruth Thothaveesansuk, Vice Chairman, Special Projects Development Office of Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group) has revealed that CP Group and its business alliance have formed a consortium and are prepared to bid for the High-Speed Rail Linked 3 Airports Project in Thailand. The high-speed rail project is worth $6.8 billion and will connect Don Mueang International and Suvarnabhumi International airports in Bangkok with U-Tapao located in the eastern province of Rayong.

Traffic project tipped to cause chaos Bangkok Post 12th Nov 2018
The 900-day construction of three overpass projects over Na Ranong intersection is expected to trigger critical traffic woes around the area with motorists being advised to avoid the route. Thanu Tharakhate, of Construction Supervision Division under City Hall's Department of Public Works (DPW), said the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is in the process of publicising details of the project.

BTS, CP consortia enter bid for airport train project Bangkok Post 12th Nov 2018
Two consortia submitted bids for a high-speed railway project linking Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports on the first day of bidding, with more expected to come on board later. BSR Joint Venture, a consortium led by BTS Group Holdings Plc, was the first group submitted the documents when the State Railway of Thailand started accepting the documents on Monday.

Human resources added to EEC S-curve target industries Bangkok Post 9th Nov 2018
The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) committee will add human resources and education development to the 11 S-curve target industries previously selected. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who chairs the committee, had approved the addition, Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Office, said on Friday. The S-curve already comprises 11 targeted industries: next-generation cars; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; medical services; and defence. The addition will bring the total to 12.

BMTA set to welcome new NGV bus fleet Bangkok Post 9th Nov 2018
The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) will receive the second batch of 202 natural gas vehicle (NGV) buses from a supplier next month after a legal hurdle was cleared by a Central Administrative Court on Tuesday. The city bus regulator received the first batch of 100 NGV buses from SCN-CHO -- a joint venture between Scan Inter Plc (SCN) and Cho Thavee Plc (CHO) -- in March.

Terminal 2 at U-Tapao airport to be fully opened in February The Nation 8th Nov 2018
The second passenger terminal building at U-Tapao International Airport will be fully opened in February, the airport's director said. Rear Adm Luachai Sri-iamkul, the director of the airport, said the new terminal has been partially opened for domestic flight passengers and for inbound international flight passengers. He said the airport would have to build more toilets to cope with the high number of passengers and to open bidding for the commercial management of the building so that there would be shops and restaurants for passengers.

Flat rate monthly taxi fare plan for unlimited trips Bangkok Post 1st Nov 2018
A new taxi service with a flat monthly charge of up to 12,000 baht for unlimited trips will be launched in Bangkok next year in response to delays in official fare increases.

IATA wants faster work on runways Bangkok Post 1st Nov 2018
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said he will ask the Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) to consider speeding up plans to improve ground safety conditions at Suvarnabhumi airport. Speaking after a meeting with International Air Transport Association (IATA) representatives and Thai aviation officials, Mr Arkhom said the IATA had expressed concerns about the condition of runways and taxiways at the airport.

Travel & Tourism

Thailand waives visa-on-arrival fee for tourists Punch Newspapers 14th Nov 2018
Thailand says it will grant a visa-on-arrival fee waiver to tourists from 21 countries and regions. According to the announcement on the Royal Gazette, from November 15 to January 13, 2019, citizens of the countries including China will be exempted from the 60 US dollars visa-on-arrival fee for the purpose of touring in Thailand not more than 15 days.

Michelin Announces 2019 Stars for Bangkok, Phuket, and Phang-nga Eater 14th Nov 2018
There are 10 new one-star restaurants in the guide, nine of them located in and around Bangkok. Farm-to-table tasting menu restaurant Pru, also with one star, is the only restaurant from Phuket on the list. Once again, a single street food vendor has a Michelin star in the 2019 guide: Supinya Junsuta’s crab omelette stall Raan Jay Fai maintains one star, even though Junsuta, who goes by Jay Fai, expressed regret last year over receiving the star and the uptick in business that followed.

Opening the gates to salvage tourism Bangkok Post 12th Nov 2018
Fixed securely in one of the world's holiday hotspots, Thailand's booming tourism industry is nonetheless experiencing uneasiness like never before amid safety concerns and growing discontent over declining arrivals from China. Chinese travellers have held Thailand in high regard as their favourite overseas destination for years. But things turned sour after a tour boat capsized off Phuket in July, claiming the lives of 47 Chinese holidaymakers.

Tourists warned of e-cigarette fines Bangkok Post 8th Nov 2018
The Excise Department has warned visitors to Thailand about the fines for bringing electronic cigarettes and related substances or equipment into the country for personal use or sale. Department director-general Patchara Anuntasilpa said on Thursday the Commerce Ministry had enforced a ban on e-cigarettes due to health concerns raised by the Public Health Ministry.