Recent crashes in Thailand’s GDP and export markets, plus the drop in tourism fuelled by recession and last year’s domestic political turmoil, have dispelled illusions that the country is insulated from the effects of the global downturn. Numerous indicators of economic health are hitting the red, foreign investment is evaporating, unemployment is surging, and credit lines are freezing up. Thailand’s government still says there is a possibility of positive growth this year, despite facing a rougher ride than in the 1997 Asian financial crisis as conditions infest the real economy on a broader scale.
Regulations and bureaucratic procedures that firms have reported as severely affecting their businesses and investment decisions were mainly on delays in tax refunds, uncertainties around the time taken to clear customs or obtain permits and certifications, and uncertainties around regulatory policies. The delays in tax refunds referred to both value-added tax refunds and import tax refunds for exporters. The Revenue Department and Customs Department have been introducing programs and employed internet-based services to reduce the time taken to do so. However, few firms have participated in these programs or have benefited from the services. On the other hand, the average number of days needed to clear import customs or obtain permits is not exceptionally high in Thailand compared to other countries.