Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thailand rises in World Bank rankings to 13th

Doing business becoming smoother
UMESH PANDEY

Despite the ongoing political tensions that have been affecting the country's investment climate, Thailand has improved six places to rank 13th for ease of doing business in a survey of 181 economies by the World Bank. ''We did not take into account political issues, civil wars or macroeconomic issues as those issues are not things that are regulatory issues,'' said Penelope Brooke, the director of indicators and analysis at the World Bank.

She made the comment at a videoconference held in Bangkok to announce the publication of Doing Business 2009.

Thailand was second in Asean behind Singapore, which retained its No. 1 global position this year.

The country was fourth in Asia Pacific after Singapore (1), Hong Kong (4), and Japan (12).

''This is a big achievement for us as a country and it comes at a time when the world is not looking up at us,'' said Avoot Wannvong, the deputy secretary-general of the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission, who helped co-ordinate the local data gathering for the World Bank survey.

The country's improvement from 19th place last year was helped by several factors, among them:

- The use of E-Customs, which has helped businesses increase their imports and exports.

- Reductions of taxes on property that helped investors participate and made it easier for them to invest.

- Changes to the rules governing the minority shareholder rights protection for companies listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

- Waivers of corporate income taxes for companies that had less than 1.2 million baht in annual revenues.

''Despite this, we are not satisfied. We need more if we want to be ranked higher and our aim is to be able to do that during next year's rankings,'' Mr Avoot said.

Pimpapaan Changsilpa, a Commerce Ministry inspector-general, noted that the business registration process in Thailand had now been reduced to just 20 days from 33 days earlier. ''This should show up during next year's ratings,'' Ms Pimpapaan said.

The ministry's plans to offer a one-stop service for all services and a single-window policy would all help raise the country's rankings further next year.

The Finance Ministry, which implements various laws, also aims to undertake more measures to facilitate activity by entrepreneurs.

Thailand had made paying taxes easier by reducing some fees and facilitating online filing and payments. In addition, it now exempts companies with taxable income not exceeding 1.2 million baht from corporate income tax and applies concessionary 25% rates for newly listed companies.

Amendments to the Securities and Exchange Act strengthened minority shareholder rights. Directors now have greater duties with respect to transactions among related parties. If held liable for using a company's assets for their own benefit, they will have to pay damages, return profits and pay fines _ and may even go to jail.

Provisional reductions of property transfer fees and specific business tax have lowered the cost to transfer property from 6.3% of the value to 1.13%.

A new internet-based customs clearance system reduced the number of documents required in hard copy from nine to three for imports and from seven to four for exports.

For more Thailand data, see:

http://www.doingbusiness.org/

ExploreEconomies/?economyid=186

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