Bids for investment incentives rocket to Bt1 trillion

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BANGKOK, Dec 27 – Applications for investment privileges in Thailand jumped to a historic volume of Bt1 trillion during Jan 1-Dec 20 this year, according to the Industry Ministry.

Industry Minister Prasert Boonchaisuk said most of the 2,180 applied projects involved infrastructure, energy, automotive spare parts and processed agricultural products.

Foreign investors. especially the Japanese, will continue to expand their investments next year and applications for investment privileges should be as high as this year, he said.

The Board of Investment (BoI), chaired by Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, yesterday approved 32 projects with a total investment of Bt108 billion (US$36 billion).

Most of the newly-applied projects are related to automotive spare parts and tyres which have grown rapidly thanks to the government’s tax exemption for first-car buyers, alternative energy and air cargo service.

The BoI Board of Directors has approved a new investment promotion policy which should be implemented in the next 6-7 months after hearings with all related sectors, Mr Prasert said.

The minister said listed companies in the Stock  Exchange of Thailand (SET) and the SET Market for Alternative Investment have been told to gradually reduce their employment of unskilled migrant workers in the next two years by laying them off at the rate of 25 per cent every six months.

Investment privileges in three southern border provinces will be extended for two years in an attempt to assist investors whose businesses have been affected by the insurgency, Mr Prasert said.

BoI Secretary General Udom Wongviwatchai said the measure requiring Thai employers to lay off  migrant workers within two years was aimed at boosting local employment.

A total of 101 companies in Thailand legally hire about 9,000 migrant workers, mostly in the textile industry.