Cabinet approves new 4 year visa for skilled professionals and investors
The Thai Cabinet has approved a “Professional Visa”; the visa, which would be valid for four years, include a free work permit and not require 90 day reporting, would be available to an as yet to be specified group of highly skilled professionals mainly in fields where Thailand has a shortfall, as well as investors in technology, technology based startup entrepreneurs , and high-level executives. Details will be announced online later by the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit. Also announced by a ranking Immigration officer was the implementation of the 10 year retirement extensions, which are, in fact 5 years plus 5 years and eligible to people from 14 countries with 3 million baht in the bank. The eligible nationalities are Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, France, Finland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Canada. The application fee will be 10,000 baht.
The Ministry of Tourism and Sports announced that international tourist arrivals rose 4.8 percent year on year in July, to a total of 3.1 million. For the first seven months of the year the total international tourist arrivals reached 20.4 million, up 4.47 percent year on year. Four countries remained in the top arrivals; China, Malaysia, Laos, Korea and India. The government predicts that the number of tourist arrivals will reach 35 million this year, up from 32.6 million in 2016. Tourism accounts for around 12 percent of the Thai economy.
The Ministry of Finance plans on asking the Thai government to invoke Section 44 to push through a law that will enable startups to avoid the laws currently considered stumbling blocks to allow these companies to grow. The law would allow tech startups to temporarily bypass laws until they are amended. The new bill will clearly state the definition of startups, the government's incentives to support them and the types of startup businesses that can operate in Thailand; it will be for both local and foreign startups. The drafting of the bill is expected to begin next month and the Ministry hopes to have it in place this year.
The Cabinet agreed to extend the 7 percent VAT rate for another year, effective until September 30, 2018. The VAT was introduced in 1992 and set at 10 percent but was immediately cut to 7 percent at the time as business operators said the high rate cut into purchasing power. The 7 percent rate has been in place ever since. The Finance Ministry said the rate will stay at 7 percent to shore up the cost of living and boost public confidence in Thai economic growth. The Ministry is not concerned about revenues and that a VAT increase is not needed. Additionally the Bank of Thailand also kept the policy rate unchanged, saying that while domestic demand has grown at a gradual pace it is not sufficiently broad-based to warrant a rate hike. It is expected the policy rate, currently at 1.5 percent, will remain in place through the end of the year.