Reformers push for simplified business licenses

A reform panel is asking the government for a green light to slash red tape by reducing the 700,000 different types of forms used to obtain various types of business licenses to about 1,000 in another move that will enhance ease of doing business in Thailand. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked the Kingdom as the best country in the world to start a business.

While the benefits to businesses in eliminating mountains of paperwork, cumbersome procedures and compliance costs are obvious, reducing red tape will also benefit the government and taxpayers in terms of the national budget, according to Kobsak Pootrakul, Minister to the Office of the Prime Minister.

“Each law repealed or merged is estimated to save around one billion baht ($31 million),” said Kobsak, who has also served as an advisor to Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha recently ordered state agencies that grant licenses to review their procedures in order to eliminate bureaucratic overreach, increase competitiveness and solve what some have referred to as a “licensing nightmare.” He also instructed ministries and agencies to ensure that accurate information related to laws and procedures for businesses are readily available on their websites.

Thailand’s progress in cutting down on burdensome processes led to the World Bank raising the Kingdom 22 places in its most recent annual Ease of Doing Business index. Thailand soared to 26th in the world for ease of doing business from 48th in just one year. Government officials have said they are determined to crack the top 20.

Kobsak said that most of the procedures related to establishing a business should be merged and handled by a single agency as a means of streamlining processes and shortening the time it takes for companies to get up and running.

He said that many of the forms required to establish a business are outdated, obsolete and need to be revoked. Kobsak chairs a subcommittee examining laws governing business operations.

Borwornsak Uwanno, a legal scholar and chairman of the reform panel investigating ways to streamline the bureaucracy, said he supports eliminating the licensing forms, but that laws need to be changed or new laws written to facilitate such changes.

“The Licensing Facilitation Act and more than 24 relevant laws need to be amended while a new piece of legislation needs to be rolled out to boost the ease of doing business,” Borwornsak said.

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