Interview : Duangjai Asawachintachit
What impact do you expect the tax incentives for investment in smart solutions and telecoms to have on the development of smart cities?
DUANGJAI ASAWACHINTACHIT: The tax incentives introduced by the BOI apply not only to new smart cities, but also to the further development of existing cities and the creation of smart industrial estates. Additional tax incentives will also be offered to smart cities in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), which is the country’s new development centre. This presents a lot of opportunities for investors and developers who work with smart technologies.
As in other countries, the effective implementation of smart cities requires strong public-private partnerships (PPPs). The government is pushing forward the smart city initiative, and we expect investment to come into the country as a result. There are many companies worldwide that are able to implement smart city solutions, and many local firms already use smart systems.
How do you expect the BOI’s current policies to affect electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing?
DUANGJAI: The EV scheme covers a whole range of EVs, including hybrid EVs (HEVs), plug-in HEVs (PHEVs) and battery EVs. Furthermore, it also includes charging stations for all types of EVs and EV parts and components. The incentives provided were not only devised by the BOI, but also by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry, and we are working together to formulate policies. As of June 2018, we have received investor applications for 12 projects for the production of HEVs, PHEVs, batteries and charging stations, with a total value of BT50bn ($1.4bn). There are a number of carmakers in Thailand, so there is no shortage of interest among investors in the emerging EV cluster, particularly in the EEC. The government is creating the right infrastructure to push the EV market further. There are 83 EV charging stations in Thailand, and with a trend towards vehicle electrification, we expect to see more companies developing stations.
What government initiatives have been rolled out in order to ensure that priority industries have access to human capital?
DUANGJAI: Human resource development is our principal priority as it is essential for the development of the country. We provide special incentive packages for firms in targeted sectors located in the EEC that are willing to take on apprentices. We strongly believe that cooperation between industry and education will be an excellent way to ensure that demand meets supply. Companies outside the EEC can also enjoy additional tax benefits if they participate in apprenticeship programmes. Another initiative to ensure that companies have access to human capital is the SMART Visa Programme, which aims to facilitate experts and investors in the targeted industries. The primary advantages of the SMART Visa include an extended validity period of up to four years and a waiver for work permits.
How can entities apply for incentive packages for projects in the EEC?
DUANGJAI: In case of PPP infrastructure projects, the project owners – that is, state agencies – will need to submit the projects to the BOI for approval of an incentive package. Once approved, it will be incorporated into the terms of reference of those projects. Bids submitted by companies will then be based on the same incentive package. As for investment projects in general, applicants can contact the BOI and lodge forms either online or in hard copy. The EEC Act complements the work of the BOI, and the EEC is a key area for investments eligible for promotion by the BOI. Moreover, the EEC Act can provide additional help beyond the scope of the BOI.