ԴЪҸԻ (English)
January 2018 : MPs Election Law Enforcement Delayed by 90 Days

  • MP Election Law enforcement delayed by 90 days
  • Administration Court ordered police to compensate PAD demonstrators
  • Court rejected Yinglucks request to block Bt35-bn rice pledging compensation
  • Cabinet agreed to comply with UN sanctions on North Korea
  • NLA passed law on selection of senators
  • State welfare card holders monthly allowance increased
  • AG files rebellion charges against 9 PDRC leaders
  • TDRI warns of soaring Bt1.4-tn annual healthcare cost
  • 5-22 bt. Increased to minimum wages nationwide
  • Former DSI chief gets suspended jail term for asset concealment
  • Finance and monetary discipline bill
  • Tax incentive to boost birth rate
  • Bt290 million for EDC installation
  • Prawits chartered flight charge dropped by NACC

    MPs Election Law enforcement delayed by 90 days

    On 25th January, the National Legislation Assembly voted on the third round 213 and 4 abstained to pass the amendment of Section 2 of the Member of the Parliament Election Organic Bill, making the enforcement of the law 90 days after published in the Royal Gazette. Under the 2017 charter, an election must take place within 150 days of the organic laws being promulgated.

    Section 35 of the Bill was also revised to cancel its fourth paragraph that ban state officials from running the election.

    The last bill is likely to be passed in June at the latest, meaning the poll can go ahead as planned in November. If enforcement of the MPs bill is delayed by 90 days, the election would then have to take place within 240 days of that, in around February 2019.

    Supreme Administrative Court ordered police to compensate PAD demonstrators

    On 31st January, the Supreme Administrative Court ordered the Royal Thai Police Office to pay multi-million-baht compensation to the Peoples Alliance for Democracy (PAD), aka yellow-shirt, protesters over the crackdown in 2008 that killed two people and injured hundreds of them. The Prime Ministers Office was acquitted the in the same case.

    On October 7, 2008, members of the PAD protesting against the continuing strong influence of fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra blocked the parliament building, moving there from their occupation of Government House.

    The demonstrators hoped to prevent new Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, Thaksins brother-in-law, from delivering his policy announcement after he succeeded Samak Sundaravej, who was forced to resign the premiership.

    Riot police was deployed to crack down on PAD demonstrators to clear the way for Mr. Somchai and MPs to enter and leave.

    The case was taken to court by 254 supporters of the Peoples Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

    The Supreme Administration Court ruled that the Royal Thai Police Office failed to deal with the protestors in appropriate manner. Police improperly fired tear gas directly at demonstrators and also used too much tear gas in the operation.

    Police were at the time accused of acting dangerously in firing the gas canisters directly into the gathered protesters instead of firing upward so that they fell among them.

    The Supreme Administrative Court acquitted the PMs Office, the second defendant, as it was not responsible for planning steps to cope with the demonstrators.

    The court set individual compensation on each affected demonstrators, ranging from 7,120 baht to 4 million baht.

    Court rejected Yinglucks request to block Bt35-bn rice pledging compensation

    On 29th January, the Administrative Court rejected a request by former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for an injection against a government order for her to pay Bt. 35 billion in compensation for damages allegedly stemming from her governments rice pledging scheme.

    The court argued that there were insufficient facts to conclude that the administrative order had been unlawful. The court needed to see more evidence from the trial of the case brought by Yingluck, it said in a statement released.

    In October 2016, the Finance Ministry issued an administrative order for Yingluck to pay compensation of Bt.35 billion to the ministry for damages allegedly stemming from the expensive, corruption-plagued, rice-pledging project. Yingluck was held responsible for damages in her capacity as head of the government and chairperson of the National Rice Policy Committee.

    Yingluck later sued Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the finance ministry, his deputy and the Finance Ministry permanent secretary, alleging that the administrative order was unlawful. She also asked the Administrative Court to grant an injection until a verdict is issued in her case.

    In April 2017, the Administrative Court rejected Yinglucks first request for an injunction, on the ground that the Finance Ministrys administrative order had not actually been implemented. Yingluck later made a second request for a court injunction after her bank accounts were frozen by authorities.

    Other members of Yinglucks Cabinet have also faced similar administrative orders for them to pay compensation allegedly arising from the rice-pledging scheme, including former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, who was ordered to pay Bt1.76 billion in compensation, and his former deputy Poom Sarapol, who was ordered to pay Bt2.24 billion.

    Both Boonsong and Poom are serving lengthy jail terms after the Supreme Courts Criminal Division for Political Office Holders found them guilty of committing irregularities stemming from the rice-pledging scheme.

    Cabinet agreed to comply with UN sanctions on North Korea

    On 30th January, the Cabinet agreed to comply with a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution to sanction North Korea over its missile test in November last year.

    The resolution adopted by the UNSC on December 22 to further squeeze the regimes economy strengthened measures regarding the supply, sale or transfer to North Korea of all refined petroleum products, including diesel and kerosene, with specific preconditions and follow-up actions.

    The measures reduced the allowed maximum aggregate for 12 months beginning on January 1 to 500,000 barrels.

    It also introduced a limit of 4 million barrels, or 525,000 tonnes, of aggregate crude oil for the 12-month period standing on December 22 supplied, sold or transferred by UN members to North Korea. Member countries are required to report the amounts of crude oil provided to North Korea to the UN sanctions body, known as the 1718 Committee, every 90 days.

    The UN sanctions also banned North Koreas export of food and agricultural products; machinery, transport vehicles, iron, steel and other metals, with the exception of spare parts to maintain its commercial civilian passenger aircraft currently in use.

    It also prohibits UN members from providing work authorizations for North Korea nationals and requires member countries to repatriate all North Koreans earning income and government attaches monitoring workers abroad within 24 months from December 22.

    NLA passed law on selection of senators

    On 26th January, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted to pass the organic bill on the selection of 250 senators with the number of groups of candidates vying for Senate seats reduced by half during the second reading.

    The NLA voted 196-7 with seven abstentions to pass the bill in the third and final reading.

    The change to the groups of candidates involved Section 11 of the bill which introduced a system of cross-voting among 20 social and professional groups of candidates was reduced to 10 in the final reading and the NLA also decided against the cross-voting and opted instead for voting within the social and professional groups.

    Section 107 of the constitution says that 200 senators are to be selected by candidates voting among themselves but it leaves the details to be addressed in the organic bill. The regime will handpick another 50 senators.

    Ten social and professional groups of candidates are national administration and security; law and justice; education; agriculture; the private sector; environment affairs; small and medium enterprises; women, elderly, people with disabilities, ethnic groups; and culture and arts.

    Candidates can apply independently or representatives of non-profit-non-partisan agencies which have been registered for a minimum of three years. Each agency can send only one candidate and application fee is 2,500 baht.

    To prevent irregularities, nominated candidates must be voted within each group and if a candidate could not be nominated from more than 10 percent of groups members, a re-voting must be done. Wrongdoing is subjected to 6 months imprison or maximum 10,000 baht fine, or both.

    These procedurals shall be effective after 5 years of promulgation due to the transitory provisions Section 269 says the first 250 members in the House of Senates shall be divided by three groups;
    1. Selected by a 9 members of the NCPO appointed committee. Firstly, the committee shall nominate 400 candidates to be selected to 194 by NCPO.
    2. 6 senate members shall come from military and police chiefs, and defense ministry permanent secretary, and
    3. Another 200 candidates nominated the Election Commission for final 50 selected by NCPO.


    Cabinet approved 35 bb budget for state welfare card holders

    On 9th January, the cabinet resolved to approve the state welfare plan phase 2 with principles on development of state welfare cards holders as follow;
    1. Agreed in principle the measures on improvement of quality of life for state welfares card holders, and assigned concerned agencies to proceed accordingly.
    2. Approved appointment of Committee for the improvement of the quality of life for state welfare card holders, Monitoring subcommittee for the improvement of the quality of life for state welfare card holders, provisional subcommittees for the improvement of the quality of life for state welfare card holders, and the district-level working groups for the improvement of the quality of life for state welfare card holders.
    3. Approved measures to promote self-development.
    4. Approved in principles tax measures to support the for the improvement of the quality of life for state welfare card holders,
    5. Approved for Government Saving Bank, and Bank for Agricultural and Agricultural Cooperatives to proceed with a total of 6 measures and 18 projects on improvement of the quality of life for state welfare card holders under Public Service Account (PSA).
    6. Approved a total budget of 35,679,090,791 baht.

    900 medical teams will be appointed to monitor, analyze and help 11.4 million card holders particularly those having income less than 30,000 baht per year. Among them, 5.3 million in working-age bracket will be persuaded to enroll in the self-development project. Upon their consent, their accounts, in state and private banks, shall be regularly monitoring in 2017-2018 whether their income increase. Card holders of maximum income 100,000 baht per annual will receive 100 baht monthly additional allowance, making a total of 300 baht per month and those whose annual income is less than 30,000 baht shall receive additional 200 baht, making a total of 500 baht per month. This shall be effective from March-December 2018.

    Enrolled card holders failed to attend the development courses will be terminated and recalling of the additional allowances.

    AG files rebellion charges against 9 PDRC leaders

    On 24th January, the Office of the Attorney-General (AG) indicted 9 Peoples Democratic Reform Committee core leaders, led by Suthep Thaugsuban, for rebellion and terrorism on ground they plotted and organized the protests and convinced the others to join their cause during the 240-day protest during 2013-2014.

    The other defendants are Sathit Wongnongtaey, Chumpol Julasai, Buddhipong Punnakan, Issara Somchai, Witthaya Kaewparadai, Thaworn Senneam, Natthapol Thipasuwan, and Ekkanat Promphan.

    The Criminal Court granted bail of 600,000 baht each on condition that they do not leave the country without court permission. The court scheduled March 19 for their prosecution and for the defense to examine the lists of witnesses and evidence.

    The PDRC held street protests at many locations in Bangkok for several months from November 2013 to May 2014 against the government of Yingluck Shinawatra. Many thousands of people took part in the protests. The political turmoil was used as an excuse for military took over by the then army chief Prayut Chan-o-cha to stage a coup.

    During that period, Suthep and other PDRC leaders often led the protesters to the offices of different state agencies and asked their officials to join the rally. The PDRC held a large-scale Bangkok shut down campaign in early 2014 at seven key locations in the city, paralyzing most of the capital.

    The nine PDRC leaders are among the 58 people originally accused in the cases stemming from the anti-government protests between 2013 and 2014.

    TDRI warns of soaring Bt1.4-tn annual healthcare

    Dr. Nuttanan Wichittaksorn, Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) studys lead researcher said Thailands health expenses were rising rapidly from 10 percent of total government spending in 2002 to 13 percent since 2007. The aging society will push the countrys healthcare costs to Bt 1.4 trillion per year within the next 15 years. The institure urged the government to plan for preventive healthcare and a health system for the elderly to reduce expenses. Healthcare costs will reach Bt. 1.407 trillion on average by 2013 if the government does not plan ahead to contain expenses, the figure could reach Bt 1.825 trillion.

    The study found that non-communicable diseases (NCDs0 such as heart disease such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity will be major health threats for seniors and require large budget to treat effectively. The study found that elderly people were the major group of patients suffering from NCDs in the Universal Health Coverage scheme and Civil Servant Medical Benefit scheme. Unnecessary expenses in private hospitals were another factor that caused high health expenses for some individuals.

    NCDs were preventable by regularly exercising and eating healthy food and mainly caused by bad habits in everyday life.

    5-22 bt. Increased to minimum wages nationwide

    On 30th January, the cabinet endorsed increases of daily minimum wages nationwide, proposed by the National Wage Committee, to be effective on 1st April 2018.

    Currently the three lowest minimum wage provinces, 308 baht per day are Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala while the highest, 330, are Chon Buri, Phuket and Rayong. Those with second highest, 325 baht per day, are Bangkok, Chachoengsao, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan and Samut Sakhon.

    The cabinet also approved relief measures for employees proposed by the Finance Ministry. Small operators will get a tax deduction at the rate of 115% of minimum wages paid to employees from April 1 to December 31 this year. Eligible operators are those with revenue not more than 100 million baht and fewer than 200 employees. The measure is projected to cost 5.4 billion baht in loss of tax revenue.

    Another measure involves spending 5 billion baht to organize training for 250,000 operators of select 50,000 small and medium-sized enterprises to help them cut costs.

    The other aid is a 50% corporate income tax deduction for three years for operators which revamp their machinery and adopted digital and internet-based services to help manage businesses.

    Former DSI chief gets suspended jail term for asset concealment

    On 19th January, the Supreme Courts Criminal Division for Political Office Holders gave a suspended jail term and put on two years probation after pleading guilty to charges of concealing assets.

    The charges were laid in 2016 by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) for failing to declare his four bank accounts, a plot of land under his and his wifes names, his shares in tow companies, and two bank accounts under his and his wifes names.

    The NACC alleged that Tarit assigned his wife and a relative to take on the assets without informing the NACC.

    On December 1 last year, the Court read the charge to Tarit and he submitted a written statement pleading guilty to the court.

    Before the court read the verdict on Friday, Tarit reaffirmed his guilty plea to the panel of judges.

    The court ruled that Tarit intentionally withheld the information of his assets from the NACC and so was found guilty of assets concealment.

    The court ruled that Tarit was prohibited from holding a state official post from April 3, 2017 when he left the post of an advisor to the PMs Office. He was also banned from holding any political office in five years.

    The court initially sentenced Tarit to six months in jail and imposed a fine of BT10,000. Since Tarit had pleaded guilty, the court commuted the sentence by half to a three-month imprisonment and a fine of Bt5,000. Because this was Tarits first offence, the imprisonment was suspended and Tarit was put on probation for two years.

    Tarit is also facing another trial in the Civil Court after the NACC suspected that he had unlawfully amassed Bt 90 million worth of assets. The NACC froze the assets on March 10, 2016. Tarit and his wife are defending their assets in that action.

    Finance and monetary discipline bill

    On 18th January, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted 158 to 9 abstain on the third round to pass the Finance and monetary discipline bill. The Bill has 87 sections and principle is to clarify definitions of state agents, non-budgetary fund and public debt.

    Tax incentive to boost bigger families

    On 16th January, the cabinet approved a tax incentive to promote married couples having more children. A couple that has a first child will be entitled to an annual tax deduction worth Bt.30,000 and to a deduction of Bt60,000 annually for a second newborn. The measure will start to take effect this year, with taxpayers able to claim the deduction when filing a tax return next year.

    Expenses as associated with the delivery of a child are also tax deductible- up to Bt60,000 per child.

    The government projects that the proportion of elderly people will rise to 30 percent of the population in 2036, a point of which Thailand would have fully become an aging society. The tax break for having a second child would however slow the aging trend.

    The government will also promote the setting up of a system of subsidized child care as a welfare benefit for employees. Employees would be entitled to a tax deduction of up to twice the actual cost of child care, but not exceeding Bt1 million annually.

    Meanwhile, the cabinet also agreed to allow those who donate money to support hospitals to benefit from tax deduction of twice the actual amount, but not exceeding 10 percent of their annual income.

    Corporates that donate money to support hospitals will get a similar tax deduction, up to a maximum of 10 percent of their annual profits.

    Bt290 million for EDC installation

    On 30th January, the cabinet approved to allocate Bt. 290,593,246 for installation of Electronic Data Capture (EDC) device machines. The card readers will be installed in government registered Blue Flag shops to allow entitled low-income earners to buy household groceries by using social welfare provided debit cards.

    Currently, 18,789 stores have installed EDC readers and it is estimated that more 20,000 units are needed.

    There are 8.4 million low-income earners registered with the government to receive social welfare. They are entitled to a monthly limited budget for purchasing necessary household groceries, cooking gas and public transportation; buses and trains.

    Since 1st October 2017, total Bt. 11,783 million expenses had been spent on groceries, Bt. 13 million on cooking gas, Bt. 28 million bus riding and Bt. 45 million train riding.

    To encourage quick progress towards a cashless society, merchants who install EDC devices can claim a double tax deduction and also ask for tax deduction for the EDC fees to the banks.

    Prawits chartered flight charge dropped by NACC

    On 5th January, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) dropped an allegation over Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan charted Thai Airways flight. The trip, cost Bt.20 million, was made to attend a conference in Hawaii and was accompanied by several attendants.

    The allegation was dropped on ground there is the trip did not violate any regulation.
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