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BoI told to fit policy to changing times

A BoI meeting chaired by Gen Prayut yesterday approved several measures to support entrepreneurs. Chanat Katanyu

The Board of Investment (BoI) has been instructed to rejig its investment promotion policies to make them reflect technological changes, environmental impact reduction and Thailand's ageing society.

The BoI was also told to bundle a package of promotional measures offered by other state agencies.

"The BoI's existing promotional privileges are good, but they need to be improved to reflect changing factors such as disruptive technology," said Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

"The BoI's policy should promote more social investment to create a better society such as pollution reduction, environmental impact reduction and ageing society support."

Mr Somkid told the BoI to offer more privileges to industries Thailand wants to promote by coming up with a policy that clearly differentiates between priority sectors.

He said the privileges given to investments in special economic zones in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) like the EEC digital park and the EEC of innovation should be attractive enough to draw investment.

The promotions should also support the agricultural and agro-tourism sector to contribute income to local communities.

More importantly, Mr Somkid said the BoI is also required to play a leading role in incubating new entrepreneurs, especially tech startups and community businesses.

Meanwhile, a BoI meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday approved measures to support entrepreneurs affected by a shortage of skilled workers, the government's daily minimum wage hike and those who want to improve production through automation.

Those entrepreneurs will be eligible for a three-year corporate income tax exemption on existing projects for up to 50% of their total investments, excluding land costs and revolving funds.

Eligible businesses can also receive a 200% deduction on corporate income tax if they organise training programmes to boost the digital capabilities of their staff.

The board also approved special measures for agriculture-based enterprises.

The BoI has cut the minimum capital requirement for small-scale Thai entrepreneurs who invest in farm-related business to 500,000 baht from 1 million, while also allowing them to employ used machinery.

Those businesses are also eligible for a corporate income tax exemption for 5-8 years on value not exceeding 200% of their investment costs.

Large or medium-sized businesses that support local communities or invest in local businesses with investment not exceeding 1 million baht are also allowed to enjoy a three-year corporate income tax exemption on existing projects, on value not exceeding 100% of their total investment costs.

The BoI is aiming for 720 billion baht in investment applications this year, up from 640 billion last year.

The board yesterday approved an ethanol project from Impress Ethanol Co worth 2.97 billion baht. The project, in Chachoengsao, will use 700,000 tonnes of tapioca to produce 109 million litres of ethanol.

In separate news, Kobsak Pootrakool, the Prime Minister's Office Minister, said yesterday amendments to four laws intended to facilitate the ease of doing business in Thailand are scheduled to go before the cabinet for approval soon.

The laws concern construction permits, copyright registration, international trade and bankruptcy.

"The government believes improvement of those laws will help upgrade Thailand's world ranking for its ease of doing business, moving to 20th from 26th place in 2018," he said.

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