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November 2018 : 350 constituencies published in Royal Gazette

  • 350 constituencies published in Royal Gazette
  • Tax deduction for political contribution
  • 15 urgent issues approved on 5-year strategic plan
  • NLA to read the bill to legalize marijuana
  • NLA approved the final two EC members
  • NLA passed stipends for judge meets
  • NLA passed land tax bill
  • Drugs Act to be amended
  • NLA passed the law on trial in absent of a defendant
  • NLA passed Pracharat Fund-Committee bill
  • The National Economic and Social Development Office reported Thai economy in the third quarter 3/2018

    350 constituencies published in Royal Gazette

    On 29th November, the Royal Gazette published the Election Commission (EC) demarcation of 350 constituencies in regards to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) order to finalize the demarcation before the enactment of the Election of the Parliamentary Members organic Act, or within 11th December 2018. The general election is anticipating to be held on 24th February 2019.

    The EC referred to the registration on 31st December 2017 when the national population was 66.18 million. The population-to-MP ratio is 189,000 people per MP making a total number of MPs 350. Province of one MP will have one constituency while province of more than one MP, their constituency numbers will be the same as MP numbers.

    Bangkok will have the most MPs 30. Following are Nakorn Ratchasrima 14, Khon Kaen and Ubon Ratchathani 10 each.

    Tax deduction for political contribution

    On 26th November, the cabinet approved the amendment of revenue code on the allowing of tax deduction of a maximum 10,000 baht on contribution to political party for an individual and 50,000 baht for a corporation. This includes contribution on political fund raising.

    15 urgent issues approved on 5-year strategic plan

    On 30th November, the National Strategic Committee endorsed the 5-year development plan of the National Strategy. Fifteen issues are divided into 4 main groups:
    1. To resolve national fundamental problems.
    2. To improve the peoples quality-of-life.
    3. To facilitate the national development in a systematic and sustainable manner.
    4. To increase national income.

    It is anticipating details will be submitted to the National Strategic Committee and the cabinet by mid-January 2019.

    NLA to read the bill to legalize marijuana

    On 23rd November, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted 145 to 1 abstained to read the bill on the legalizing of marijuana as medicine and appointed a 29-member committee to deliberate the draft bill within 60 days.


    NLA approved the final two EC members

    On 22nd Novemver, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted by majority to approve the appointment of two more election commissioners- Lertviroj Kowattana and Thitichet Nutchanat- filling the final vacancies on the seven-member Election Commission.

    Mr. Lertviroj, former permanent secretary for aggiculture and cooperatives, received 148 votes and Mr. Thiticet, advisor to the Lawyer Coucil, 149. They each needed the support of more than 120 of the 240 assembly members.

    Previously in August, the NLA voted for five election commissioners and rejected two nominees making the selection process began again.


    NLA passed stipends for judge meets

    On 22nd November, the National legislative Assembly passed a bill regulations on judicial civil service administration on its final reading with 145 votes allowing court judges to receive meeting allowances.

    The highlight of the draft bill rests with the Judicial Administration Commission, which is permitted to disburse the meeting allowance payment to the judges who attended the plenary meeting of the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court.

    The commission is also authorized under the law to issue new rules governing meeting allowance payments for the plenary meetings as well as general meetings of the criminal divisions of the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court. According to the bill, the judge who presides as chairman of a meeting will receive 10,000 baht per meeting.

    Each member of an executive panel who is required to be present at the meeting will receive 8,000 baht per meeting.

    The secretary, assistant secretaries and all other attendants of the meeting will receive 6,000 baht each in the meeting allowances. Each year, the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court normally host 24 meetings, or two a month.

    In the five years after the law takes effect, close to 1.1 billion baht in meeting allowances will be earmarked by the government.

    The cited reason for holding the plenary meetings is to assure the public that the judges and civil servants can effectively deliberate matters for the sake of ensuring justice.


    NLA passed land tax bill

    On 16th November, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) passed the bill on land and building tax with 169 votes after a long deliberation for 19 months.

    The land and building tax will replace the regressive house and land tax and the local development tax systems, which have drawn criticisms for being archaic.

    According to the bill, land use for agricultural purposes with appraisal prices of up to 50 million baht will be taxed at a rate of 0.01%, while land valued between 75-100 million baht will be taxed at 0.03%. Land with a price between 100-500 million would be taxed at 0.05%.

    Regarding land and buildings used for residence, those with appraisal prices of up to 50 million baht will be taxed at a rate of 0.02%, those from 50-75 million baht will be taxed at 0.03%, between 75-100 million baht at 0.05%, and those valued at 100 million baht or above will be taxed at 0.1%.

    In terms of first home owners, a tax exemption will be applied to the first 50 million baht of the appraisal prices of their houses in the event that they own both the home and the land.

    Those who only own houses, but not land, would be subject to tax exemption for the first 10 million of their houses appraisal prices.

    In relation to land used for commercial purposes, a tax rate of 0.3% will be applied to land worth up to 50 million baht, 0.4% to land worth between 50 and 200 million baht, 0.5% for land valued between 200 million baht and one billion baht and 0.6% to land with a price tag of 1-5 billion and 0.7% to land worth 5 billion baht and above.

    For undeveloped land, a tax rate of 0.3% will be applied and it will increase by 0.3% every three years; however it will be capped at 3%.

    The bill will be enforced immediately upon its publication in the Royal Gazette, but actual tax collection will commence from January 1, 2020.

    Drugs Act to be amended

    On 13th November, the cabinet resolved on the Public Health Ministry proposal to amend the Drugs Act B.E. 2510 on reason the act was enforced more than fifty years ago and needs revision. Among the revisions are an establishment of a committee and sub-committee to set criteria, measures and conditions on the selection of experts, from individuals, private organizations and state offices, from both inside and outside the country, to expedite and efficiency the application process. The applications are currently consider and approve by the Office of Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    NLA passed the law on trial in absent of a defendant

    On 2nd November, the National Legislative Assembly passed the amendment Criminal Procedure Code with 162 votes to revise the trial procedure to protect the defendant rights by authorize the court to nominate a lawyer for the defendant in case when the defendant did not have the lawyer.

    The amendment also authorizes the court to call for hearing, testify and make judgement when the defendant, or a representative, purposely avoiding the court hearing, without any reasonable ground, for three months after the arrest warrant issued.

    Previously, a defendant was required to appear before the court to hear judgement and if the defendant fails to be present the judgement is suspended until the defendant actually appears. However, if the court has any suspecioun that the defendant purposely avoided the judgement hearing, an arrest warrant will be issued. If the defendant is not arrested within one month from when the warrant was issued, the court can issue the judgement without the defendant being present. Though the conviction found the defendant guilty, that defendant still has the right to appeal to the Appellate Court or the Supreme Court. In other words, even a fugitive has the legal right to appeal his or her conviction.

    Under the new law, these loopholes are closed and the court can issue the judgement without the defendant being present. The purposed amendments stated that if the defendant wanted to appeal a Criminal Court judgement, the defendant should be required to physically appear before court officials.

    NLA passed Pracharat Fund-Committee bill

    On 9th November, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted 164 to pass the Pracharat Welfare bill whereas principles are to set up a committee to fulfill the Prayut government Pracharat policy and providing annual budget for projects or measures to assist the low income group. The bill will be effective after publishing in the royal Gazette.

    The National Economic and Social Development Office reported Thai economy in the third quarter 3/2018

    On 29th November, the National Economic and Social Development Office reported Thai economy in the third quarter as follow:
    • Employment increased 1.7%, particularly in the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors, for the first time in 22 quarters.
    • Household debts likely to increase but no sign of payment problems.
    • Sicknesses from immunologic disease increased particularly in respiratory and measles.
    • Epidemics from cross country travel should be closely monitoring.
    • Expenditures from alcohol and cigarettes decreased.
    • Narcotics cases increased leading to intensely monitoring and criminal prevention.
    • Accidents increased. All societal sectors must be aware on losses of lives and asset.
    • Suicide rate decreasing regardless to attempt rate was ten-fold to success.

    Regarding to the World Economic Forum 2018 index on global competitiveness 4.0, Thailand labor force ranked 38th from 140.
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