The Cabinet has approved in principle for the amendment of requirements in obtaining the Non-Immigrant Visa Category O-A and its renewal on the part of insurance.
The relevant authorities which are the Immigration Bureau, the Royal Thai Police, the Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will require to revise their required conditions for obtaining such Non-Immigrant Visa Category O-A and its renewal as there are problems in regard to the current requirements as follows:
Foreigners who are at the age of more than 70 years old cannot purchase an insurance in Thailand resulting in an inability to apply for an extension.
Forms for purchasing of insurances in foreign countries do not align with the insurance and other funds’ benefits.
Those applying for the extension of their stays wish to use insurances from abroad.
Hence, the new requirements for purchasing of insurance are as detailed below.
The purchase of Thai insurance with a sum insured for medical expenses are to be: 1 No less than 40,000 THB for outpatient; and 2 No less than 400,000 THB for inpatient. The purchases of insurance are done online via the website of https://longstay.tgia.org
1st VISA application There will need to be a health insurance or governmental welfare for medical expenses and the insurance covering COVID-19 treatment no less than 100,000 USD or 3,000,000 THB (the adjusted health insured sum)
Application for VISA extension The purchase of health insurance from overseas or having a foreign governmental welfare is allowed under the conditions as follows: – it is required to have a government authority certifies on a form of health insurance, i.e. an overseas Royal Thai Embassy; or – it is required to have certification of signature of an authorized person signed on the document by the ministry of foreign affairs of the country of applicant
In case that the applicant is a risked group resulting in rejections by all insurance companies, the following additional documents are required: – The rejection letter of the purchase of health insurance – Securities, deposits, and other health insurances with an insured sum no less than 3,000,000 THB complying with the regulations of the Immigration Bureau.
Currently, there are 2 draft acts to amend Alcohol Control Act B.E. 2551 (2008) (“Act”). One is presented by Mr. Charoen Charoenchai and his proponents (“Draft Act Proposed by Mr. Charoen”) and another is proposed by the Office of the Alcohol Control Committee (“Draft Act Proposed by the Committee”).
The Draft Act Proposed by Mr. Charoen remains in the public hearing process. The public hearing will need to be taken place for no less than 15 days from 23 June 2021. Until now, it is still waiting for comments from all related governmental agencies and private entities (i.e. Excise Department, Office of the Alcohol Control Committee, Ministry of Public Health, Office of the Higher Education Commission, Royal Thai Police, Department of Religious Affair, business operators, alcohol beverage consumer, and general population). The Draft Act Proposed by Mr. Charoen will have to be amended according to the comments as received from the hearing proceeding and it will then be presented to the Cabinet and Parliament for their consideration.
The Draft Act Proposed by the Committee has finished its public hearing process since 9 July 2021. It is in the process of amending and finalizing according to the comments as received from the hearing proceeding. The draft Act Proposed by the Committee will be proposed to the Cabinet and Parliament for their approval.
The Parliament will consider both drafts together as their contents are interrelated.
Key Summaries of both Draft Act Proposed by Mr. Charoen and Draft Act Proposed by the Committee presented for their public hearings are as follows:
Draft Act Proposed by Mr. Charoen
Draft Act Proposed by the Committee
Narrowing down the scope of definitions resulting in more relaxed restriction whereby the sell of alcoholic beverages will only mean exchange of alcoholic beverages with money and advertisement will exclude market communication (activities with an aim to sell goods, services or image. It also covers public relations, sales promotion, product expositions, organization or support of special events and direct marketing).
Expanding the scope of alcoholic drinks to cover any consumables having alcohol higher than 0.5 degree as part of its component.
Reducing restriction imposed on the advertisement of the alcoholic drinks.
Expanding the scope of restricted advertisement whereby the Alcohol Control Committee has the power to issue regulations on advertisement; Prohibiting any persons to endorse or act in anyways to promote, whether directly or indirectly, the alcoholic beverage including for the promotion of the brand image and any other purposes to be prescribed by the Alcohol Control Committee.
National Alcoholic Beverage Policy Committee
Including representatives from the alcoholic operators and experts.
Expanding the scope of power in issuing policies and work plan for controlling of alcoholic beverages through taxes and other measures as well as treatment and rehabilitation of alcoholics without the approval of the cabinet.
Alcohol Control Committee
Reducing the numbers of representative from the private entities whose goal is to protect consumers, consumer protection, and protection of the right of women and children; and Reducing the scope of power of the Alcohol Control Committee ranging from their power to regulate the label, limited time and area to sell the alcoholic drinks.
Increasing the numbers of the representative from the private entities whose goal is to promote public health.
Power of the competent official
Expanding the power of competent official in collecting evidence and checking of ID or related documents during investigation.
Other Sale Policies
Prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages on specific days is still possible, but the government will need to provide measures to reduce the adverse impact on the businesses and the tourism sector; and Revoking the prohibitions of use of promotion to boost sales and use of electronic vending machine to sell alcoholic drinks.
Elite Membership is one of the visas schemes for tourists managed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (“TAT”) having varieties of package ranging from 5-10 years of membership.
TAT has proposed for extending its privileges to the Cabinet for approval in order to magnetize wealthy foreigners around the world to visit and stay in Thailand for long term periods.
On 8 June 2021, the Cabinet approved in principle for such proposed Flexible Plus Program as one of the national economic reliefs responding to the effect from Covid-19 pandemic. The Thailand Flexible Plus Program has 4 target groups, i.e. Wealthy Global Citizen, Wealthy Pensioner, Work-from-Thailand-Professional, and High-Skilled Professional.
Details of the project after working with the working team under supervision of the Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow was referred to the Cabinet but was rejected by the Secretariat of the Prime Minister thereafter. The Secretariat of the Prime Minister deemed that the matter is related to the Ministry of Interior and, therefore, ordered the TAT to schedule a meeting for further discussions in which the meeting was held on 9 July 2021.
The proposed plan includes a new type of Long-term Resident Visa (LTR VISA) and establishment of the LTR service unit to accommodate this plan. The LTR service unit will be established in a form of private entity having a concession granted by the Ministry of Finance to specifically manage this project. The key current requirements for the Elite Flexible Plus Program, as far as the TAT can confirm to the public at this moment, are making investment in Thailand in real estate, shares both in limited companies and stock market, debentures, or depositing in the bank accounts for a minimum of 1 million USD or around 30 million THB. The investment can be diversified and collectively reaches the minimum amount or can be invested wholly in one category. Other details will be announced later once it becomes clear.
On 25 May 2021, the Cabinet has approved a draft Ministerial Regulation Concerning an Electronically Private Hire Car with Driver Not Exceeding 7 Passengers No. .. B.E. …. (“Draft Ministerial Regulation”) as proposed by the Ministry of Transport. The Draft Ministerial Regulation will be referred to the Council of State for further consideration.
Once enacted, the Draft Ministerial Regulation allows an individual passenger car carrying not exceeding 7 passengers booked through an electronic platform to be a legally private hire car with a driver. It will accommodate modern livelihoods which will allow more choices for consumers, more economic fostering, and more competition for an existing private hire car with driver form (i.e. taxi). It will also extend authorities’ power to control its services.
Main Points of the Draft Ministerial Regulation
The Definition Provisions:
“A private hire car through electronic platforms” means a private hire car resulting from registering a passenger car as a private hire car. Its hiring is done through an electronic platform.
“A private hire car” is a passenger car on a hire carrying not exceeding 7 passengers through an electronic platform.
Types of Cars
There are 3 types of private hire car allowed for registration considering their sizes, i.e. small, medium, and large. Each individual person can register 1 car. The criteria for the cars’ sizes will be in this Draft Ministerial Regulation once finalized.
Any passenger car to be registered as a private hire car has to be a 4 doors sedan, a panel van, an SUV car, a van, or other types of cars to be specified by a notification of the Department of Land Transport.
The private hire car will have and be booked through an electronic platform approved by the Department of Land Transport. In addition, the car must:
Display a sign showing the private hire car through electronic platforms status;
Have a color that matches the car’s registration; and
Not be in use for longer than 9 years from the registration date.
The car registered as a private hire car will keep the same plate, but the registrar will change the type of registration on its registration handbook.
The private hire car will have its checkup under the procedures and prescriptions to be stipulated by this Draft Ministerial Regulation once finalized. The private hire car and its driver must be clean and hygienic. Nothing in the private hire car can cause the consumers any inconvenience or safety concerns.
For small and medium size private hire car:
The charge for the first 2 kilometers must not exceed 50 THB and not exceeding 12 THB for each additional kilometer;
In case that the car cannot move/commute in normal circumstances, the chargeable rate cannot exceed 3 THB for each minute; and
The platform cannot additionally charge more than 50 THB, and the maximum of other added charges by the platform must not exceed 200 THB.
For Large private hire car,
The charge for the first 2 kilometers must not exceed 200 THB and not exceeding 50 THB for each additional kilometer;
In case that the car cannot move/commute in normal circumstances, the chargeable rate cannot exceed 10 THB for each minute; and
The platform cannot charge more than 100 THB additionally, and the maximum of other added charges must not exceed 200 THB.
Details of the fare rate will be as stipulated by further orders of the Minister of Transport.
On 11 May 2021, the Cabinet has approved a draft Act for Amendment to the Thai Public Limited Companies Act B.E. 2535 (1992) (“PCA”) No. .. B.E. …. (“Act”) as proposed by the Ministry of Commerce endorsed by the Council of State. The Act will be considered by the House of Representatives thereafter. The Act has 6 main issues as follows:
To allow public limited companies to announce company’s matters, information and news through electronic means other than Thai newspapers. Currently, the PCA demands public limited companies to advertise its matters, information and news through Thai daily newspapers only.
To provide options for document submission and delivery by allowing public limited companies or their board of directors to submit and deliver documents to their directors, shareholders or the companies’ creditors electronically.
To amend and provide options for the board of directors and shareholders’ meetings by allowing them to be held electronically according to the law related to meetings through electronic means. The location of the meeting will be at the company’s headquarters or any nearby province unless the Articles of Association of the company specified otherwise. In any event, the location will need to be in Thailand.
To allow more flexible methods for calling the board of directors’ meetings such as in case of no chairman, the vice-chairman can call for the meetings and in the event that there is no chairman and vice-chairman, 2 members of the board or more are empowered to call for the meetings.
To allow shareholders to call for shareholders’ meetings electronically in the same manner that the board of directors can do.
To allow proxy appointments for attending the meetings be done electronically. Overall, the aim of this amendment is to update procedural matters of the management of Thai public limited companies to allow comfortabilities for all parties involved and to be in alignment with the technology of a modern time.
The Ministry of Interior has issued its Announcement Re: Collecting of Fees for Registration of Rights and Juristic Acts under the Land Code: Establishment and Operation of Public Financial Institutions (“Announcement”) in which summary of such Announcement are as follows:
Registration fee for transferring of ownership of the immovable asset is at the rate of 0.01% in case that such transferring of ownership transaction is from a juristic person, individual or group of people other than a public financial organization to the public financial institution.
Registration fee for the mortgage of immovable assets is at the rate of 0.01% in case that such mortgage is for being collateral for a credit facility between a member of a public financial institution and a public financial institution.
On 18 May 2021, the Cabinet approved in principle for the Draft Ministerial Regulation on Social Security Fund Contribution Rates B.E. …. (“Draft Ministerial Regulation”) proposed by the Ministry of Labour in order to alleviate challenges faced by the insured employees and employers affected following the spread of COVID-19. The Draft Ministerial Regulation will be referred to the Council of State for further considerations.
Summaries of the Draft Ministerial Regulation are as follow:
The Draft Ministerial Regulation will repeal the Ministerial Regulation on Social Security Fund Contribution Rates B.E. 2563 (2020) and the Ministerial Regulation on Social Security Fund Contribution Rates (No. 2) B.E. 2564 (2021).
The Draft Ministerial Regulation will set the new rates of contribution to the social security fund which will be in force for 3 months starting from 1 June 2021 to 31 August 2021. The new rates are to be specified as follow:
The employers and the insured employees under Section 33 of the Social Security Act B.E. 2533 (1990) will contribute to the social security fund at the rate of 2.5% of the insured employees’ wages. The government’s contribution will remain at the rate of 2.75% of the insured employees’ wages.
The contribution for compensation fund related to injury, sickness, disability, death and childbirth will be at the rate of 1% of the insured employees’ wage for insured employees, employers and government.
For contribution for benefits to children of the insured employees and old age pension, the contribution rate of the employers and insured employees under Section 33 will be at the rate of 1.25% of the insured employees’ wage; the government’s contribution rate will be at 1.5% of the insured employees’ wage.
The contribution for the unemployment fund will be at 0.25% of the insured employees’ wage applied to all insured employees, employers and the government.
From 1st September 2021, the contribution rate will be revised to the new rates as follows:
The contribution for compensation fund related to injury, sickness, disability, death and childbirth will be at the rate of 1.5% of the insured employees’ wage for all insured employees, employers and government.
For contribution for benefits to children of the insured employees and old age pension, the contribution rate of the employers and insured employees under Section 33 will be at the rate of 3% of the insured employees’ wage; the government’s contribution rate will be at 1% of the insured employees’ wage.
The contribution for the unemployment fund will be at 0.5% of the insured employees’ wage applied to all insured employees and employers and the government’s contribution will be at the rate of 0.25%
This Draft Ministerial Regulation is expected to be enacted and become enforced shortly.
The Ministry of Interior proposed its draft Announcement on Special Permission for Certain Groups of Foreigners to Stay in Thailand (No. ..) B.E. …. (the “Draft Announcement”) to the Cabinet for its approval and that the Draft Announcement was approved in principle by the Cabinet on 23 March 2021.
Since the government has allowed foreigners, who travel by cruises or sport ships (yachts), to the Kingdom are able to apply for a Special Tourist Visa (STV) at the immigration checkpoint according to the Announcement on Special Permission for Certain Groups of Foreigners to Stay in the Kingdom dated 30 October 2020 and its amendment dated 9 December 2020, from such, there were many foreigners traveled to the Kingdom under such special program and that some more of them have already registered to travel to the Kingdom under the same visa program.
Due to the current situation of the COVID-19 epidemic which has been improved, Thailand is currently trying to speed up its economic recovery especially in the tourist sector, the Ministry of Interior then proposed the Draft Announcement to the Cabinet in order to extend the period of time for enforcing of such STV program to be until 30 September 2021 subject to strictly adhere to the measures preventing communicable diseases.
A draft amendment to the Civil and Commercial Code Act (No. .. ) B.E. …. (“Draft Act”) was approved by the Cabinet as proposed by the Council of State and the Draft Act will be submitted to the Coordinating Committee of the House of Representatives and then submitted to the House of Representatives for further consideration before becoming to be enforced.
The key issue of the Draft Act is to revise interest rates to be consistent with the present economic circumstance as follows:
The interest rate not being clearly specified by any juristic act or by any provision of law shall be revised from the rate of 7.5% per annum (Section 7) to 3.5% per annum. This interest rate can be adjusted by promulgating of a royal decree.
The interest rate for default in payment of debt shall be revised from the rate of 7.5% (Section 224) per annum to 5% per annum.
The interest rate for default in payment of debt in case of payment by installments shall be calculated only from principal amount of such installment.
The provisions of this Draft Act shall be applied to interest which is due in payment from the date of their enforcement. Those provisions shall not cause effect to the interest charged before such enforcement but shall cause effect to the interest calculating based on all principal amount of debt as agreed between the parties to become void immediately once the Draft Act becomes enforced.
The Department of Intellectual Property proposed for amendment to the current Copyright Act in order to mainly solve the issue of copyright infringement on the internet and to meet the international standards especially the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCO) in which Thailand is required to enter into being a member.
Such amendment to the current Copyright Act has recently been considered by the Legal, Justice and Police Committee (“Committee”) of the Upper House Level, key’s consideration of the Committee for being used during the meeting of the Upper House Level are as follows:
The takedown notice shall be arranged in writing and shall include as least details as follows:
The copyright owner’s name and contactable address, telephone number or email address
The copyrighted work claiming as being infringed or examples of them on the service provider’s website
Sufficient computer data claiming that it has been created by infringer and data’s location or location where such computer data has been found so that the service provider is able to remove such infringing computer data from its system or suppress accessing into such computer data except as specified therein.
The content showing warrants that such claim is true.
The copyright owner’s signature or electronic signature.
The Department of Intellectual Property should consider having those conditions of the take-down notice specified in the ancillary law for easy revision other than having the same specified in the Copyright Act itself.
The term in regard to the computer data’s location or location where such data has been found is still not clear. It should be revised to be a source for dissemination of infringing data and also the term in regard to notice should be indicated to be as the notice in an electronic form or electronic written document.
Takedown measure shall not cause-effect to other computer data which is not related to such infringing data and if that causes an effect, the protection and remedy measure for such other computer data shall be considered and provided.
The copyright issue is an issue among the private sectors. It should be considered a compoundable offense.
As copyright work can be protected without any registration. Once the protection period has lapsed, the means to allow the public knowing about that should be considered.