Kobsak: Still seeking out improvements

Thailand could crack the top 20 of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking for 2019 after it managed to jump to 26th-most business-friendly nation in the 2018 ranking, says Prime Minister Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool.

Thailand’s scores in the World Bank’s ranking were weak in some areas, such as dealing with construction permits, registering property, trading across borders and handling insolvency. The government hopes to improve these areas to move up in the ranking, he said.

The World Bank’s site visit to Thailand has been slated for the mid-year and the evaluation announcement will be made in October.

Thailand was the second-most improved country in the 2018 rankings, climbing to 26th place among 190 economies from 48th in 2017 and 49th in 2016.

Several recent improvements in the ease of doing business included abolishing a requirement to obtain a company’s seal and eliminating the need for approval of a firm’s employment regulations from the Labour Department.

The government also introduced an automatic risk-based system for selecting companies for a tax audit; reduced the property transfer tax rate; adopted legislation to broaden the scope of assets that can be used as collateral; and implemented geographic information systems to access electricity.

Mr Kobsak said that at a related meeting, the establishment of a commercial court to speed up legal cases related to business, including fraud, had been discussed.

Tossaporn Sirisamphan, secretary-general of the Office of The Public Sector Development Commission, said Thailand will reform its digital laws, which will help the country improve its World Bank ranking.

But he remained cautious about the prospects of leaping into the top 20.

While the government has adopted digital platforms for several business processes, including e-registration and e-filing for courts, the number of users is still low, he said.

Mr Tossaporn said that Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong had floated the idea of accelerating the digital transition across processes to be concluded within one year, and to adopt the US practice of charging less for electronic filing.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said that the stronger baht could be largely attributed to the US dollar’s slump, as Thailand is not alone in seeing its currency run up against the greenback.

Mr Somkid said the central bank is monitoring the baht to prevent any irregular movements.

News Reporter

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