Thai gov’t approves 5 percent VAT refunds for Chinese New Year in February

Thailand’s about to give everyone a little extra cheddar to spend during their Chinese New Year celebrations.

The cabinet yesterday approved a proposal to establish a 5 percent VAT refund for debit card purchases between Feb. 1-15, which will coincide with the holiday, which falls on Feb. 5.

To take advantage of the program, shoppers who pay with debit cards will receive the 5 percent VAT refund via their PromptPay — a system for money transfer that links individual’s ID numbers or mobile phone numbers with their bank accounts, reported MThai news.

With the VAT rate for domestic good and services currently at 7 percent, shoppers will pay just 2 percent VAT during those two weeks.

The maximum redeemable purchase amount is THB20,000 (about US$600), which means the highest refund available is worth THB1,000 (about US$30).

Puttipong Punnakanta, deputy secretary general to the prime minister, said the program will boost domestic spending as well as promote the rapidly growing trend of a “cashless” economy, reported Bangkok Insight.

All goods will be covered, except for alcoholic drinks.

However, not everyone is happy about the program.

With the scheduled Feb. 24 election coming less than two weeks after the refund, critics say that the program is “politically motivated” to benefit the pro-government Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), a fairly logical conclusion.

They believe the program will capitalize on the popularity of the program to gain an unfair advantage at the polls, reported Bangkok Post.

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