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11 December 2000

Dissatisfaction with Economic Laws Prompts Amendment Drive

A group of senators and academics have stated their intention to seek 50,000 public signatures to persuade the next government to amend economic laws which they claim have a pro-foreign bias. The group revealed its plans during a seminar regarding economic laws and the economic crisis.

The seminar was held by the Senate's Committee on Finance, Banking and Financial Institutions, in Phuket.

A senate speaker attending the seminar stated that a number of senators were ready to back the petition. The committee's chairman, said the outcome of the seminar would be sent to the Senate for debate. Phusana Preemanoch, president of the Institute of Social and Economic Policy, also spoke at the meeting. to comply with obligations made to the International Monetary Fund. Some laws were partially or wholly copied from other governments and did not suit Thailand. Further, the laws may have been designed to "appease foreign businessmen and foreign creditors.


6 December 2000

Special report:  Immigration Update

This past August, one of the major visa service companies was raided and closed by the police. The company had been providing a visa service, which sent their clients’ passports overseas to certain consulates that would then issue non-immigrant visas without requiring the passport holders’ presence.

The fallout from this has been a heightened scrutiny at the Immigration Department of passports that have a visa without an exit and entry stamp that would show that the passport holder actually visited the consulate or embassy that issued the visa.

Investment Residence Permits

The Immigration Department has proposed a continuation of the Investment Visa project, which granted investment resident permits based on an investment of ten million Baht. This program expired in July. However, the Immigration Department has proposed an extension of this program for qualified persons and is currently awaiting authorization from policy makers.

Consular Developments

In September, the Thai Consulate in Penang introduced 12-month multiple-entry non-immigrant B visas. Then, with effect from November, the consulate began demanding a great deal of paperwork, consisting of, among other items,. the corporate registration, balance sheets and lists of all expatriates.

One source has said that the new requirements apply to all non-immigrant B visas, whatever their length of validity.

Regulations vary from one Thai consulate to another. For example, the other consulate in Malaysia, Kota Bahru, will issue only three-month non-immigrant B visas.

However, the only paperwork the Kota Bahru consulate requires is:

- Copy of passport and two photographs;
- Original letter of recommendation of the company/employer stating the reason for employment, position and salary;
- Contract of employment, if it exists.

Special report:  New Accountancy Act Provides for Greater Director Liability

Directors’ potential liability has been increased under the new accounting law that came into effect this August.  Under the new law company directors may be liable for fines and imprisonment if their financial records are not in proper order.

Persons responsible for the preparation of the account shall have up to five months to submit the accounts to the Central Revenue Office of the Local Account Office for each accounting period.

Company directors are responsible for appointing qualified auditors and are responsible for their company’s financial records and statements. Currently there are about 20,000 auditors registered by the Department of Commercial registration.

Companies must keep account records for no less than five years. If the company ceases to do business, all records must be handed over to the Commercial Registration Department within ninety days.

Many companies have expressed dissatisfaction with the requirement that auditors need to be involved in routine accounting practices, citing the high expense.

The penalties under the Act range from fines to imprisonment. The penalties apply both to the company directors responsible for the preparation of the accounts and the accountants themselves.


3 December 2000

Money Changer Crack Down

The government has recently revised an executive decree on lending to extend its coverage to moneychangers operating without licenses, according to sources in the Finance Ministry. The Fiscal Policy Office has broadened the scope of its laws to crack down on non-licensed moneylenders.

According to a spokesman for the Finance Ministry, there are too many loopholes in the Foreign Exchange Trading Act to cover liability for illegal foreign exchange

Speaking at a seminar, the permanent secretary of the Finance Ministry stated that the current executive decree does not cover illegal money exchange by non-banking companies, as they do not actually perform transactions.


15 November 2000

SEC Trust law Proposed

The SEC has proposed a new trust law to protect small investors and close certain legal loopholes. Trustee under the proposed law would have the right to hold assets if an issuer of securities goes bankrupt and investors would also be protected if a trustee filed bankruptcy.

Legal loopholes that the new draft law would aim to eliminate include such in mutual funds where asset managers are considered to hold the rights to the assets rather than the unit holders themselves. This could lead to problems for investors if the fund manger went bankrupt and creditors would have the right to foreclose on assets that should belong to the investor. Another loophole that is sought to be corrected is with regard to issuing shares, Currently, underlying shares belong to the company until they are actually issued.

In the future both of these problems may be solved by the use of trustees to hold the shares on behalf of the beneficial owners.


14 November 2000

CDRAC to assist smaller firms with funds acquisitions.

The Corporate Debt Restructuring Authority is planning on focusing more on Small to Medium Enterprises (SME’s). Many of the SME’s that have had their debts restructured have problems obtaining new financing. CRAC is currently collaborating with the Small Industry Credit Guarantee Company t try to accelerate borrowing opportunities for SMEs.


9 November 2000

SET to Incorporate

The board of director of the Stock Exchange agreed in principle to transform the exchange into a corporation from an agency with brokerage firm members. The goal of incorporation would be to increase competitiveness and be in line with global trends. A public hearing is going to be held and if the change is supported the Thailand Securities and Exchange Act will have to be amended. Under the draft proposal, the SET will be divided into two entities: an operating company and a development fund. The operating company will be responsible for its commercial operations. The major shareholder will be the development fund, which will be given the status of a nonprofit corporation.


7 November 2000

Directors’ penalties enlarge

Under the new accounting law company directors may be liable for fins and imprisonment if their financial records are not in proper order. Company directors are responsible for appointing qualified auditors and responsible their company’s financial records and statement6s. Currently there are about 20,000 auditors registered by the Department of Commercial registration. Under the new law, accountants committing misrepresentation and tampering with financial statements would also be subject to more severe penalties.

Broadcasting Bill curtails self-regulatory powers

The most recent draft of the Broadcasting bills would give a regulatory committee the power to supervise electronic media, rather than allow a self-censorship mechanism. He bill seeks to decentralize power in accordance with the 1997 constitution. Currently the foreign ownership limit is capped a 25 percent, but this could be changes.

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