Firms in Thailand want government to give covid-19 vaccine jab tax relief

A medical worker prepares a jab of Covid-19 vaccination at the Bang Sue Grand Station in Bangkok late last month. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Firms in Thailand want government to give covid-19 vaccine jab tax relief

The government is being encouraged to allow companies to have the cost of providing Covid-19 vaccines to their employees deducted from their corporate tax, as an indirect economic stimulus.

On average the cost of importing a Covid-19 vaccine per employee is 2,000 baht, or about 2 million baht for a company with 1,000 employees such as a construction firm whose worker camps are being shut due to Covid-19 outbreaks, said Kobsak Pootrakool, a former PM’s Office minister.

The cost of suspending operations at a factory or shutting down a construction site, meanwhile, is estimated to be between 5 million baht to 10 million baht per day, which is far higher than the cost of providing Covid-19 vaccines to workers, he said.

Mr Kobsak, who is now a senior executive vice president of Bangkok Bank, was speaking at a recent Facebook live streaming talk hosted by veteran journalist Suthichai Yoon.

Aside from construction companies, other types of businesses also have a large number of employees to take care of such as department stores and restaurant chains, he said.

If these businesses can operate after getting their workers vaccinated against Covid-19 they will contribute greatly to efforts to keep the country’s economy afloat, he said. While these businesses take care of Covid-19 vaccinations for their employees, the government will be able to focus its vaccination efforts on the more vulnerable groups, he said.

The current wave of Covid-19 is severe and Thailand requires swift action to successfully contain it as soon as possible or else scenarios could replicate those in the US, Europe and India previously, he said.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s promise to clear away all hindrances to the country importing Covid-19 vaccines is a positive sign for companies eager to import vaccines themselves, said Mr Kobsak.

The government needs a quicker approach to deal with the outbreak as the number of new infections remains high despite the lockdown being in place for almost a month, he said.

He also urged the government to transfer funds directly to the provinces to help their fight against Covid-19.