Deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra, the de-facto leader of the opposition Pheu Thai Party, yesterday promised the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce that if the party is elected and forms the new government, he will support the development of business owners and boost the purchasing power of workers.
Thaksin spent hours listening and talking to the chamber members through an Internet video link at a Bangkok hotel.
He said measures such as a low-tax regime, sovereign wealth fund, easier visa requirements for tourists and a hike in the minimum wage to Bt300 a day will be a boon to the economy and society. He vowed to make Thailand a trade and travel hub of the region, not unlike Dubai in the Middle East.
He would gradually lower the income tax over two years from 30 per cent to 20 per cent, arguing that this, along with the higher minimum wage, would lead to stronger domestic purchasing power and higher value-added tax receipts through larger and larger cycles of consumption.
"Today, countries with problems are those with high taxes," said Thaksin, who resides in Dubai after being convicted in Thailand.
While trying to promise whatever business leaders from the chambers asked for, Thaksin mentioned his pet project - developing a city on reclaimed land somewhere on the Gulf of Thailand that would be about half the size of Phuket or 200,000 rai.
The project would be self-supporting because half of the land would be put up for sale at Bt12,500 per square wah while the other half would be occupied by government buildings, public parks, beach roads, a wind farm to generate electricity and more.
"Whatever we do not have or cannot build in Bangkok will be constructed there," he said.
Other ideas floated by Thaksin in an attempt to win support from the members of the Chamber of Commerce were
- Make Don Mueang an airport hub for private jets
- Further penetrate the Chinese and Indian markets
- Set up training centres for Thai workers and factory workers offering courses and loans for the courses to be repaid later in instalments
- Organise and legalise migrant workers from neighbouring countries
-Build 10 more electric train lines and dual-track railroads linking Bangkok and its vicinity
Thaksin, who admitted to being "hyperactive" during the videoconference, did not fail to attack political enemies, however.
Corruption is now rampant and many politicians are used to getting 30-per-cent kickbacks, he said.
Thaksin also claimed that just before the military coup on September 19, 2006, a Singapore agency held a meeting to discuss the competition from the yet-to-be opened Suvarnabhumi Airport.
"But they stopped the meeting after learning that I was ousted, saying the place could no longer be a hub now that Thaksin was gone."