Thailand: State urged to offer online VAT services

Ant Financial Services Group, the operator of China’s biggest online payment platform under Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba Group, has called on the Thai government┬ to offer more online services for value-added tax (VAT) refunds and immigration processing to facilitate international tourists, particularly Chinese.┬
Simon Hu, president of Ant Financial, who met Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak on Thursday, said online services would speed up the immigration process and VAT refunds for foreign tourists.┬
The company reported more than 7 million Chinese visitors use its Alipay services a year, most of them independent travellers who visited second-tier Thai tourism provinces.┬
Based on Mr Hu’s suggestions, Mr Somkid assigned the Revenue Department and the Immigration Bureau to study the possibility of offering immigration services and VAT┬ refunds online, saying faster services will attract more Chinese visitors.┬
Mr Somkid also asked the Chinese firm to encourage Alipay customers to visit more of Thailand.┬
Ant Financial Services Group, formerly known as Alipay, is the highest value fintech company in the world, and the world’s most valuable unicorn, with a valuation of UScopy50 billion.┬
In separate news, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corporation reconfirmed to the Thai government on Thursday its plan to invest 300 billion baht to establish an ethylene┬ cracker facility near its existing refinery at Sri Racha, Chon Buri.┬
The company has already submitted its investment project to the Board of Investment.┬
Jeremy Robert Osterstock, chairman and managing director of Esso (Thailand) Co, also met Mr Somkid on Thursday┬ and asked the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand to┬ speed up its study on land development of a 600- to 800-rai plot near its existing refinery at Sri Racha, now that the company plans to launch its investment as soon as possible.┬
Mr Somkid said the ethylene cracker investment project by Exxon Mobil is one of 12 targeted industries the government wants to drive the country’s future economic growth.┬
Previously, Exxon asked the Thai government to help seek land plots sized 600-800 rai near its existing refinery as the ethylene cracker would need to be connected to the pipeline there.┬
The plant needs to be located near Laem Chabang port because the company plans to export petrochemical products to the region.┬
Exxon Mobil has operated in Thailand for more than 120 years as Esso.┬
The investment includes downstream operation, including a refinery and chemical manufacturing plant in Sri Racha, a network of distribution terminals and service┬ stations, and a strong lubricants presence.┬
The company operates an onshore natural gas production site in Nam Phong district, Khon Kaen province.┬
In addition, the company has a business support centre in Bangkok that provides accounting, human resource information technology, retail operations, procurement,┬ treasury and tax services, card operations and customer service to various Exxon Mobil affiliates worldwide.┬