– A daily, pocket-sized packet of news from around the world, compiled by Phuket Gazette reporters for foreigners who want it short, sharp and straight to the point.
PHUKET: The Fiscal Policy Office has completed drafting a new Land and Building Tax Law which requires owners of non-commercial land and buildings to pay tax of no more than 0.1% of its ‘tax-based value’. Agricultural property would face a tax up to 0.05% and others up to 0.5%.
According to a report in the Bangkok Post, the draft proposes many exemptions – for example, for residential buildings on 50 square wah or less and worth less than one million baht in key areas including Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya. Residential buildings worth less than 500,000 baht in municipal areas, and those worth less than 300,000 baht in tambon administration areas, would also be exempt.
Tourists canceling Thailand trips
The tourism industry has lost more than a billion baht in bookings because of cancelations ahead of this weekend’s anti-government rally, Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) chairman Aphichart Sangka-aree says. He called on the red-shirts to rally peacefully and refrain from laying siege to any state offices as it would derail the recovering economy.
Business operators are worried that the use of the Internal Security Act in Bangkok and nearby provinces during the rallies would cost them dearly in lost clients. At least 31 countries have advised their citizens to avoid traveling to areas in Thailand where the demonstrations take place, and more countries are likely to follow suit.
Phuket is unlikely to be affected directly by the protests as there are no known plans for any anti-government activities in the island province, located about 1,000 kilometers from Bangkok and long a stronghold of support for the Democrats.
Thailand still negotiating over patented drugs
A senior Thai official voiced hope on Monday for a World Trade Organization (WTO) solution on the production of low-cost generic drugs, an issue that has stirred friction with Western companies. The government suspended patent protections for expensive cutting-edge treatments for AIDS, cancer and heart disease in 2006, giving Thais access to cheap copycat versions.
Activists against AIDS and poverty hailed Thailand as a global leader, but the Kingdom has faced heavy pressure and threats of legal action from Western pharmaceutical firms.
Trade Representative Kiat Sittheeamorn told the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand that the government was in talks with all sides and hoped for an eventual solution under the WTO.
Thailand waits to raise interest rates
Thailand’s central bank may keep its benchmark interest rate at a five-year low as political tensions threaten an economic recovery and prevent it from following neighboring Malaysia in raising borrowing costs. Political unrest will hurt an economy that emerged from a recession last quarter, says Sutapa Amornvivat, executive vice president at TMB Bank in Bangkok. “The central bank will be cautious in policy tightening because the economic recovery has just started. They’ll probably wait for a firmer pace of recovery and also a more stable political situation.”
Inflation is not yet a concern in Thailand and pressure to adjust the policy rate remains low.
— Gazette Editors
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