Thailand’s Economic Relief Measures in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic
It has been almost one year since the world, including Thailand, faced the great pandemic, COVID-19, which is still ongoing. This has had massive impacts across many sectors of the economy.
Thailand is no different as the COVID-19 pandemic affected many economic sectors, e.g. tourism, importation and exportation, and local entrepreneurs’ operation, etc. Consequently, to maintain the businesses operation of entrepreneurs and relieve the adverse effects from COVID-19, Thailand has implemented policies and measures through the regulatory authorities.
A summary of the key measures are as follows:
Bank of Thailand
The Bank of Thailand, as the regulatory body of commercial banks and financial institutions in Thailand, has stipulated measures to alleviate debtors, both natural persons and juristic persons. Such measures includes decreasing the monthly installment rate of loans, depending on the capability of repayment of the debtors, extending the period for repayment, providing debt restructuring assistance, and proving soft loans. Measures will be enforced by commercial banks, special financial institutions, and non-banking financial institutions.
As of the first quarter of 2021, entrepreneurs could apply for the relief measures to commercial banks. The debt restructuring between creditors and debtors, together with the financial institutions, would be subjected to the exemption and/or promotion of tax and official fees.
Board of Investment
The Board of Investment is the main regulator responsible for providing tax promotions and other non-tax privileges to eligible investors, no matter if the investors are Thai or foreign. The investor would have duties to import machine, manufacture products, sell or export products during the specific period.
As the pandemic has adversely affected investors by preventing the import or manufacturing of their products within the specified period and with certain medical products in short supply, the Board of Investors have set out certain measures relaxing provisions and policies to encourage investments in the medical sector. The measures are as follows:
- accelerating investments in the medical sector;
- supporting the adjustment of existing production lines to manufacture medical devices or parts;
- adjustment the benefits granted for the production of raw materials used in the manufacture of medical products; and
- relaxation of investment conditions.
However, the aforementioned measures and policies expired at the end of 2020 and the Board of Investment has not renewed or notified that they will extend the period of measures.
Revenue Department, Ministry of Finance
The Revenue Department has provided tax relief measures since the first quarter of 2020. The tax relief measures which are currently available are as follows:
- withholding tax rate is decreased to 2% from 1 October 2020 to 31 December 2022 for any payment of assessable income via e-Withholding Tax system;
- the expense of juristic persons for investing in the e-Withholding Tax system or e-Tax Invoice & e-Receipt system will be doubled within 1 January 2020-31 December 2022;
- the last date of tax filing is extended for eight days from the last date of tax filing until 31 January 2024; and
- the official fee for any registration of transaction regarding immovable property for debt restructuring between creditors and debtors is decreased from 2% to 0.01% until 31 December 2022.
In addition, the Thai government has also set out the following relief measures and financial support policies:
- Rao-Cha-Na Project: The Thai government will provide to qualified Thai citizens support money amounting to THB 3,500/person/month for two months (THB 7,000 in total). The eligible applicant must:
- not be an insured person under the Social Security Act B.E. 2533;
- not be a government authority;
- not be a person who has an assessable income of more than THB 300,000 per year;
- not be a person who has deposited money in aggregate of more than THB 500,000 in all bank accounts; and
- have Thai nationality with 18 year old or more on 19 January 2021
- The 50-50 Co-Payment Scheme (Khon-La-Krueng Project): The scheme will subsidise purchases at small shops where a qualified person will pay half and the government subsidies the other half. The government will pay food, drink, and general goods purchases up to THB 150 per person per day, capped at THB 3,000 per person for the duration of the scheme. The eligible sellers must operate in the food, drink and general consumer goods business, must not be a juristic person, and must not be a franchisee of a franchise business.
- 33 We Love Each Other (Section 33 Rao-Rak-Gun Project): This project is to support “salaryman” or the insured person under section 33 of the Social Security Act B.E. 2533. The government will pay support money amounting to THB 4,000 to each qualified person at the rate of THB 1,000 per week for four weeks. The eligible person must not have deposited money in aggregate of more than THB 500,000 in all their bank accounts.
Although the above relief measures are not provided in support of business operators, they do not impose extra burdens on the business operators as employers. They have been provided with the hope of an increase in spending to help small businesses.
If you have any questions or require any additional information, please contact Threenuch Bunruangthaworn, Archaree Suppakrucha, Ratthachat Kumhom of ZICO Law Thailand or the partner you usually deal with.
This alert is for general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice.