Thailand COVID-19 Update – May 2020

Thailand COVID-19 Update for May 2020 includes on overview of the international travel ban and visa and work permit extensions, new Board of Investent measures, new criteria for  holding Board of Directors and Shareholders Meetings via Electronic Media, and the deferment of the enforcement of Thailand’s Personal Data and Privacy Law. 

 

Extension of Temporary Ban on International Flights to Thailand until June 30, 2020
After reviewing the current situation, on May 16, 2020, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand announced the continuation of the suspension of all incoming international flights from June 1st, 2020 at 00:01 a.m. until June 30th, 2020 at 11:59 a.m.

This ban permits the entry of international flights on the conditions listed below; however, all arriving passengers are subject to a 14-day state quarantine under the regulations of the Emergency Decree on the State of Emergency:
(1) State or military aircraft
(2) Emergency landings
(3) Technical landings without disembarkation
(4) Humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights
(5) Repatriation flights
(6) Cargo flights

Domestic Airports open for service at this time: Nan Nakhon, Phitsanulok, Phrae, Mae Hong Son, Lampang, Khon Kean, Nakhon Phanom, Buriram, Roi-et, Loei, Sakon Nakhon, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon, Ubon Ratchathani, Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Ranong.

International Airports open for service at this time: Suvarnabhumi, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Don Mueang, Chiang Rai, Koh Samui, Surat, Hat Yai Hua-Hin, and U-Tapao.

Immigration News
Automatic Visa Extensions
The Thai Cabinet approved the extension of the period for automatic visa extensions for foreigners, and the official Notification of the Ministry of Interior was published in the Royal Gazette and became legally effective on April 24, 2020. Under the Notification:
1. Starting from May 1, 2020, all foreigners who received permission to stay in the Kingdom and obtained automatic visa extensions until April 30, 2020, (as specified in the Notification which was effective April 8 for ALL types of visas including Non-Immigrant Visas, Visa-on-Arrival, Visa Exemptions, P30, PP14, PP30, and PP90), under the current new notification, ALL types of visas for foreign nationals are now automatically extended until July 31, 2020.
2. The period for filing a 90-day report shall be extended until July 31, 2020 without penalty or being considered as delayed filing.

Analysis and Comment: Although this Notification grants the right for foreigners to stay in Thailand without the need to extend their visa from May 1, 2020 until July 31, 2020, we encourage all visa holders – BOI, Non-BOI, IEAT, DMF, dependent, retirement, and student visas types and 90-day report filing – to proceed with visa extensions and/or filing 90-day reports as long as the government offices remain open and will accept applications. This is to avoid potential crowding and delays if waiting until the ban expires.

BOI Rules during COVID -19
The BOI briefly started to accept pre-visa applications this month, but then reversed this measure. The BOI, IEAT, and DOE still continue to suspend all Pre-Work Permit applications (PWPA) until further notice.

Analysis and Comment: All new foreign employees and family members must be aware that even if they are able to obtain a non-immigrant visa from a Thai Embassy or Consulate overseas, they will not be permitted to enter Thailand due to the Temporary Ban on all international flights to Thailand until June 30, 2020 at the earliest.

Corporate Law News
New Criteria for Holding Board of Directors and Shareholders Meetings via Electronic Media
On April 19, 2020, the Emergency Decree on E-Meetings B.E. 2563 (A.D.2020) became effective and replaces the former National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) No. 74/2257. Significant changes meant to ease some restrictions are as follows:
• The requirement for one-third of an E-Meeting’s quorum to be physically present at the same meeting location no longer applies.
• All participants can now attend E-Meetings from inside or outside Thailand.

Additional and amending principles:
• E-Meetings will also apply to private meetings.
• All participants shall be able to cast votes (whether it be open voting or secret voting).
• E-Meetings shall be held in compliance with the security standards as prescribed by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES)

Remark: New security standards are expected be issued in the near future. In the interim, the current one issued by the NCPO will remain in force to the extent that it does not contradict this Emergency Decree.

If the Chairman gives the order to summon an E-Meeting, to be a legally enforceable E-Meeting, the following obligations must be met:
• Prepare all participants to identify themselves prior to starting an E-Meeting
• Enable participants to cast votes (whether it be open voting or secret voting)
• Prepare E-Meeting’ minutes in writing
• Make an audio recording or both a visual and audio recording of all participants for the whole session of the E-Meeting, except for private meetings
• Keep an electronic traffic data (Log File) of all participants as evidence

2-in-1 Procedure for Incorporation and Value-Added Tax Registration
Under the Notification of the Director-General of the Revenue Department on VAT (No. 234) and the DBD’s Office Notice on Combining Procedures of Incorporation with Value-Added Tax (VAT) Registration, any business operators registering (i) Juristic ordinary partnerships, (ii) Juristic partnerships, or (iii) Limited companies from April 20, 2020 onwards with the intention of conducting the business of sale of goods or services liable for VAT are eligible to register for VAT simultaneously with incorporation through the Department of Business Development (DBD). This shall be deemed as VAT registration from the date of incorporation.

New Board of Investment Measures
Board of Investment Announcement No. 3/2563 on Investment Stipulation Measures became effective on March 11, 2020. The new announcement repeals the Board of Investment Announcement No. 4/2562 on October 28, 2019 on Investment Acceleration Measures. Under the new announcement, all provinces including Metropolitan Bangkok are now considered investment promotion zones. Significant changes meant to encourage more investment in 2020 include:
• A project’s minimum investment capital excluding the cost of land and working capital must THB500 million (February 6, 2020 to December 30, 2020). The minimum investment capital will jump to THB1 billion for the same time period in 2021.
• While an extension of time for importing machines will not be allowed, an extension of time for full operation commencement shall be considered as appropriate.
• Projects are eligible for corporate income tax (CIT) exemptions for a period of up to eight years. After the initial CIT exemptions expire, the eligible projects shall be entitled to a 50% (CIT) deduction for a period of 5 years.
• This Announcement shall be effective for projects that apply for promotion from January 2, 2019 to the last working day of 2020.

Enforcement of Thailand’s Personal Data and Privacy Law Deferred
Thailand’s Personal Data Privacy Law (PDPA) was published in the Royal Gazette in May 2019 and will come into force on May 27, 2020 after a one-year grace period. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation and the lack of preparedness among state and private organizations in complying with the law, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES) recommended that the Cabinet issue a Royal Decree to suspend PDPA enforcement of Chapter 2 – Personal Data Protection, Chapter 3 – The Right of Data Owner, Chapter 5 – Complaint Mechanism, Chapter 6 – Civil Liability, and Chapter 7 – Penalty along with Section 95 and Section 96, given the necessity of current situation. The Cabinet approved the DES’s proposal and will issue a Royal Decree extending the enforcement period for the Personal Data Protection Act B.E 2562 for another year. The PDPA will now come into effect on May 27, 2021.

Announcement on Fund Payments and Contributions
A new Ministry of Finance Announcement prescribes the type of businesses, timeframes, and provisions for employers and employees suffering from economic crisis, disaster, or any other severe events widely affecting economic conditions to cease and postpone fund payments and contributions.

Under Section 10/1 of Provident Fund Act B.E 2530 indicated amendment by Provident Fund Act (No.4) B.E 2558:
1. Employers and employees suffering from fiscal crisis caused by the Covid-19 outbreak are allowed to temporarily cease or postpone the savings or contribution payments from now until December 2020. Both employers and employees unable to make such payments during this time will still remain at their current status.

For employers who wish to cease or postpone the fund contribution following the previous paragraph, if the employees wish to continue their savings payment, the employer can continue and/or discontinue the employer’s contribution to the employee’s provident fund.

2. To cease or postpone fund and contribution payments, employers must have a resolution from the general members meeting that has a quorum of votes as prescribed by the fund’s articles or not exceeding one-half of the meeting’s attendees.
If there is no stipulation in the fund’s articles or in the event that the general meeting could not be held, the fund committee shall pass a unanimous resolution to temporarily cease and postpone fund and contribution payments. For a Pooled Fund, a resolution from an employer member or fund committee member must be obtained.

3. Employers or fund committees shall notify the registrar with a request to cease and postpone fund and contribution payments to using the following documents:
(a) Letter of Recognition from the employer certifying that the company is affected by the Covid-19 outbreak situation and is having financial difficulties. The letter must be countersigned by an Authorized Director.
(b) Minutes of the general meeting (member meetings) or minutes of the fund committee meeting which consist of details specifying that employers are affected by the Covid-19 Outbreak situation and having financial difficulties and wishing to temporarily cease and postpone fund payments and contributions and specifying a starting period and ending period (the period not exceeding December 2020)

4. If employers and employees wish to continue sending fund payments and contributions following Article (1), the registrar must be notified.

 

Disclaimer
The material contained herein is only provided for information purposes. No part thereof may be deemed to constitute legal advice or the opinions of this law firm or any of its attorneys. Whilst every effort has been made to verify the contents of the material contained herein, we do not represent, warrant, undertake, or guarantee that the information contained in this newsletter is correct, accurate, or complete. Legal advice must be sought before acting on any information contained herein.

 

 

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