Ease of business improves, Thailand expects better ranking


Thailand’s government has implemented improvements in rules, regulations and procedures that have increased the ease of doing business and officials expect the Kingdom will receive a better ranking from the World Bank’s in its annual ease of doing business global index later this year.

The new rules and regulations relate mostly to starting a new business and obtaining credit, and directly respond to advice and criticisms cited in the last annual report by the World Bank. Thailand fell three places to 49th out of 189 countries in the world in the last rankings on ease of doing business by the Bank.

Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong told reporters that while the new rules and regulations did address points raised by the World Bank in its last report, the overriding aim of the changes is to make Thailand more attractive to investors and businesses.

“The improvements are aimed not only at raising the country’s ranking, but also making it truly more convenient to do business in Thailand,” Apisak said after meeting leaders of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Thai Industries and the Thai Bankers Association.

During the first two months of 2016, investment applications doubled to nearly $1 billion compared to the same period last year, with the farm, technology and chemical industries leading the way. Investment applications by foreign firms increased five-fold, according to the Board of Investment.

A World Bank team will arrive in Thailand in April or May to begin assessing the country’s business environment for its next annual ease of doing business report, which normally is released in October.

In its 2015 report, the Bank said Thailand needed to improve its legislative enforcement, short-cut duplicate and complicated processes for starting up new businesses and tax payments, and increase credit-access opportunity for enterprises – especially small and medium enterprises.

A World Bank representative added, however, that the slight slip in ranking was also the result of an adjustment in the methodology the Bank used for the report, and not necessarily any deterioration in the ease of doing business in the Kingdom.

In recent months, the government has collaborated with the private sector in an effort to streamline the business incorporation process from three steps to one. It has also reduced red tape and paperwork. Whereas in the past, it was necessary to submit 22 documents to incorporate a business, after the changes it takes just one.

The Customs Department has reduced clearance time for exports to three days from four, and is expected to reduce that even further in the near future. The Land Department has accelerated the property registration system by employing an electronic map system, while business operators can now pay their employees’ contributions at bank branches without having to go to the Social Security Office.