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NEWS UPDATES 9 June 2010

Thailand: Tourism relief package in the wake of red shirt protests

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The cabinet yesterday approved an expanded tourism relief plan, which includes tax breaks and bigger soft loans to help businesses affected by recent political unrest.

The plan is expected to cost the government about 4 billion baht in lost revenue, said Pradit Phataraprasit, a deputy finance minister. But the measures should generate income greater than the government's losses, he said.

Individuals who buy domestic tour packages from local authorised agents will be able to deduct up to 15,000 baht from their taxable income, effective from June 7 until the year-end.

Juristic persons who organise exhibitions or roadshows both domestically and abroad will be eligible to deduct up to two times their expenses for corporate tax.

Companies will also be allowed to deduct the sums they spend on training retreats in the country. However, the two tax incentives for companies will be effective only after an executive decree has been issued. The tax package will run until the end of next year.

The cabinet-approved measures also allow tourism operators to claim a tax deduction of up to 60% for depreciation costs of newly acquired assets until December next year.

The government also allows rental car businesses to claim a tax deduction for the full depreciation costs of passenger cars with fewer than 10 seats, under the package. Previously, the sector was only allowed to deduct one million baht from their tax liabilities for such purposes.

Mr Pradit said the government would also allow small entrepreneurs affected by the recent turmoil to borrow up to 4 million baht each at an interest rate 3% below prime lending rates, up from one million baht earlier.

The SME Bank has already approved 2.96 billion baht from a 5-billion-baht loan programme for SME tourism businesses, he said.

The cabinet agreed to issue an executive decree to allow insurance firms to deduct compensation provided to small-business owners affected by arson on May 19 when paying corporate tax.

Deputy government spokesman Vachara Kannikar said the cabinet would allocate 34 million baht to pay 7,500 baht a month to people who lost their jobs as a result of the unrest. It would cover both members and non-members of the Social Security Fund.


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