New plan will target retirees and the self-employed across the world to make Thailand their home and base for new business ventures. The plan hopes to attract 1 million per year out of an estimated 200 million worldwide with a monthly income of ฿300,000 to ฿400,000 per month. At last Friday’s meeting, officials in key agencies such as the Ministry of Labour, Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Commerce and business agencies were asked to review all laws impacting foreigners.
A radical new plan emerged last Friday at a meeting of the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) being pushed by Deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow who is being advised by a former managing director of JP Morgan Bank in Thailand, Chayotid Kridakon, to open up the kingdom to expat foreigners and attract millions more of them to live and invest in Thailand. This would spur on economic growth in the short term for the next six or seven years above 4% and in the long term, could be part of the basis for the kingdom’s vision of becoming a high-income economy powered by S Curve industries and entrepreneurship. The new plans may see property ownership regulations liberalised allowing foreigners to own homes while making visa and work permit processes easier for those investing in the kingdom going forward.
A key adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow, on Wednesday, outlined a plan by the Thai government to attract up to one million foreigners with a high level of income to the kingdom to live each year under a new government initiative targeted with helping Thailand escape the middle-income trap which it is currently facing unless the economy is rejuvenated in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis which has seen the country’s GDP contract by up to 7%.
Mr Chayotid Kridakon, formerly a managing director with JP Morgan Thailand, revealed that the plan was discussed at last week’s meeting of the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) on Friday chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha.
Immigration Bureau asked to review visa and reporting requirements for expats living in Thailand
As part of the initiative, key government agencies such as the Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Labour and the business administration department are being asked to look at ways to streamline legal requirements to make it easier for foreigners to consider living in Thailand and using it as a base for both world and regional business operations.
One of the key initiatives proposed last Friday was amending the property laws in the kingdom to allow foreigners to own their own homes outright.
Currently, foreign ownership of property in Thailand is limited to a certain proportion of condominium developments and up to 49% of a Thai company.
Thailand seeks to attract 0.5% of 200 million people worldwide with an income of between ฿300,000 to ฿400,000 per month to invest and live in the country
Mr Chayotid explained that the plan was to get one million of the estimated 200 million people globally with an income of between ฿300,000 to ฿400,000 per month.
He said that based on a monthly expenditure of ฿100,000 per month, such inward migration to the kingdom would generate ฿1.2 trillion. This alone would represent 7.5% of GDP.
In addition to boosting the country’s economic growth, such an inward flow of talent may also help support Thailand’s efforts to grow in its targeted area of S Curve industries as the country seeks to raise the value of its exports.
The meeting on Friday agreed that a ‘proactive economic plan’ will be formulated to attract this community to Thailand which would involve transforming the current regulatory environment to make it easier for such people to live and work in the country.
Target is one million high-income foreigners moving to Thailand per year says former JP Morgan boss
‘When the meeting endorses the details, state agencies will step up efforts to attract a first investor by June, with an aim of promoting investment, tourism and stimulate domestic consumption,’ said Mr Chayotid. ‘There are about 200 million of them around the world and we have set a target of drawing one million to Thailand each year.’
‘These people earn about ฿300,000 to ฿400,000 baht a month. If one million of them are here in Thailand and spend about ฿100,000 a month each, Thailand will get about 1.2 trillion baht a year from them,’ he disclosed.
Economy czar, Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow supports the new expat initiative
Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow, who is also Energy Minister and the government’s economy czar, has endorsed the plan which will see the Immigration Bureau and Ministry of Labour look at the regime for visas and work permits with a view to making reforms.
This will also include a review of current reporting requirements such as the 90-day report.
The government will examine its tax structures to find ways of offering incentives to firms to relocate their regional offices and headquarters to Thailand.
Retirees will continue to be welcome
The new plan also aims at making Thailand more welcoming to retirees who currently make up a significant proportion of the expat community in the kingdom which strongly contributes to the Thai economy.
The government will be especially looking to attract more self-employed people from countries around the world and startups to come and invest in Thailand.
Economic growth must reach 4% this year or it will be a setback for Thailand’s challenged economy
Thailand’s Finance Minister, Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, is known to be determined to push the economy towards a higher growth rate this year in the order of at least 4% citing the last two years of stultified growth followed by a 7% contraction.
The plans are supported by the Bank of Thailand which has made it clear to the government that growth rates in excess of 4% are a necessity in the next six to seven years if the kingdom is to stand any chance of emerging from the middle-income trap.
The kingdom is fighting off competition from countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia and even Cambodia with younger populations for inward investment while the country’s labour costs look set to rise.
New pension scheme this week heralds a new era of an ageing society but this plan may be the antidote
Thailand, on Tuesday, announced a new pension scheme to deal with the kingdom’s chronic ageing problem which will become a critical economic issue in the future as the country’s working population gets older and begins to decline.
It may well be that a shot in the arm from a growing expat community with both talent and money, to invest and live in Thailand, could be the answer the kingdom is looking for.