Business leaders have asked the state to accelerate amendment of the subordinate laws regarding anti-terrorism in order to free Thailand from the watch list of the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in the next two years.
The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) once again pressed the government to make further progress, especially with the subordinate laws amendment, to assure the FATF that Thailand can effectively battle money laundering.
"Thailand made major progress by imposing new laws to convince the FATF to remove us from the international list of high-risk countries for transactions," said Pongsak Assakul, senior chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
The removal followed the country's progress in complying with the FATF's recommendations, specifically by enacting the Anti-Money Laundering Act and the Counter-Terrorism Financing Act, both starting on Feb 2 this year.
"But we shouldn't stop at that, as we will become normalised if we work out the subordinate laws to support the major act," said Mr Pongsak.
Thailand remains on the list of closely monitored states, with the FATF voicing doubt about the country's ability to prevent financial transactions that might support violence in the Deep South provinces.
The FATF's reconsideration of the country's status will take place during the next round in 2015.
"Hopefully we will be free of the watch list in 2015 if we make progress on the subordinate law amendments," said the JSCCIB, which comprises the Federation of Thai Industries, the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Thai Bankers' Association.
Mr Pongsak said Thailand's removal from the watch list would improve business confidence and yield a stronger credit rating for offshore fund mobilisation.
Despite a slowing trend in the country's economic data, especially export figures, growth is expected to improve in the second half on seasonal factors, he said.
The baht's recent depreciation against the dollar after a strong start to the year should also aid export growth.
Separately, Chartsiri Sophonpanich, chairman of the Thai Bankers' Association, said local trade and investment are signalling a positive trend in the second half despite the country's slowdown and global uncertainties.
Banking interest rates are at reasonable levels to support economic growth and business expansion, he said, even though banks have not followed the central bank on rate cuts.
The Bank of Thailand cut its policy rate by 25 basis points in May and will meet next on July 10.
Mr Chartsiri, also president of Bangkok Bank, said BBL still expects the country's full-year economic growth and the bank's total loan growth to be 4-5% and 6-8% respectively.
About the author
- Writer: Somruedi Banchongduang
Position: Business Reporter