PHUKET CITY: The man charged with transforming Phuket into a “cyber paradise” says procedures for fast-track visa and work permit approvals for foreign IT workers will be operational next month.
Dr Manoo Ordeedolchest, President of the Software Industry Promotion Agency (Sipa), has announced that applicants will be able to apply to the Sipa office, which will then coordinate with the Board of Investment (BoI).
Once applications are approved, the BoI will expedite procedures at the Immigration and Labor Departments. Applicants will know within about four days whether they are eligible for the red tape-cutting measures, he said.
Dr Manoo, in town for a series of IT-related seminars, said the rapid expansion of Phuket’s broadband Internet infrastructure was a big step toward establishing the island as an ITC City – but that the lack of skilled knowledge workers continues to limit foreign investment.
He also told the Gazette yesterday that the next six months will see his agency working hard on its “one-stop service” website that will allow residents to pay bills and conduct business with the Government on line.
If implemented, the service could put an end to the “take a number and wait in line” frustration that so many of the island’s residents suffer when conducting business with government agencies.
Dr Manoo told the Gazette that work by TOT and CAT over the past six months to lower costs on broadband Internet and to expand their geographical coverage had paved the way for IT development.
The next step, he said, will be to get other government agencies to coordinate their efforts and share databases. This could take some time, he warned, because each government agency has to observe internal regulations and many of the required changes involve lengthy approval processes.
Three companies, two foreign and one Thai, have now applied for BoI privileges as IT investors though the Sipa Phuket office, he added.
The benefits, which include tax breaks and duty-free import of hardware and software, became available in August.
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