ASEAN Regulatory Brief: Import Licensing in Myanmar, Thai Telecom Regulations, and Indonesian Tax Amnesty
Myanmar: Commerce Ministry to Ease Import License Regulations
The Ministry of Commerce recently announced plans to ease import-licensing regulations. Under the proposed changes, the Ministry plans to exempt import licenses for over 250 products. A member of the ministry said that 267 commodities will be exempt and the decision has been discussed with the relevant ministries as well as the customs department. While import licenses will be abolished, a tax payment will still be applicable after declaring the goods to customs.
The measures are part of the government’s plan to stimulate trade by creating liberal economic policies. The government wishes to attract more foreign investment into Myanmar by creating a suitable business environment. The development bodes well for companies that are planning to enter or are currently operating in Myanmar. The changes will facilitate easy external trade and improve the ease of doing business in the country.
Thailand: Telecom Regulatory Authority to Impose Strict Measures on Mobile Signals
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) announced that it would impose strict measures to regulate mobile phone signals. The NBTC said that it would amend current regulations to ensure mobile signals achieve desirable standards. The NBTC will strictly enforce the dropped-call rate (DCR) for companies, which is currently 15 percent. However, in some areas the DCR was significantly higher than the prescribed limit. The strict enforcement of the 15 percent limit is expected to be operational from September. The NBTC has given five mobile operators namely, Advanced Info Service (AIS), Total Access Communication (DTAC), True Move, CAT Telecom and TOT Plc, 15 days to resolve their DCR problem.
The move comes in the wake of an increasing DCR in multiple areas. As of May 2016, there were more than 1000 complaints about dropped calls. This included complaints from nearly 30 provinces. The highest DCR was recorded in the capital Bangkok. The strict regulation of mobile signals will improve the network quality in Thailand, which will be beneficial to business on several levels. The move also highlights the proactive stance of the government and regulatory bodies to resolve issues faced by consumers, which is indicative of healthy economic attitude in the country. The proactive stance could be a key driver for attracting foreign investment into Thailand in the coming months.
Indonesia: Parliament Approves Tax Amnesty Bill
The Indonesian parliament on 28 June passed a tax amnesty bill. The bill aims to bring in 165 trillion rupiah (US $12.4 billion) in additional revenue by providing lower tax rates to people who declare previously untaxed wealth. The lower tax rates will incentivize Indonesians to bring capital back into the country. Indonesian individuals and businesses often use neighboring countries such as Singapore to hide untaxed wealth. Under the stipulations of the bill, those declaring untaxed capital have until March 2017 to do so. The new income tax rates will be between two and 10 percent as compared to the general rate of 30 percent.
The bill has faced some backlash from activists who insist that it does not serve justice to those evaded taxes. However, economic analysts believe that the move will bring in capital and increase transparency within the country. This increase in turn is viewed as a favorable condition for attracting more foreign investment. In addition, the government wants to reinvest the taxes in infrastructural development, which will boost the Indonesia’s attractiveness to foreign investors.
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