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New Strategy Needed to Boost Business Investment in Thailand: Minister

Beautiful beaches, spicy culinary sensations and amazing shopping have long made Thailand a tourism mecca. For someone starting a business in Thailand these scenic and cultural attractions don’t hurt, but aren’t enough to seal the deal.

Sound development incentives, attractive tax arrangements, clear government policies and transparent Thai business laws are critical.

In a nation marked by political unrest and changing social times, the challenge in attracting new business investment to Thailand requires new thinking according to Industry Minister Wannarat Channukul.

Like his political predecessors, he has vowed to change the country’s investment promotion strategies to improve Thailand’s regional and global competitiveness.

He believes a fundamental shift in the way the country’s Board of Investment offers privileges and incentives is critical.

“We have to keep revising (privileges) to catch up with our pace of development. As well, we can see investors comparing rivals in the region before making decisions,” he said in a recent press interview.

Board of Investment

The BoI is an important reference for business advice in Thailand and under Thai law has a key role in promoting foreign direct investment.

It offers tax incentives and Thai business law exemptions to businesses which meet certain criteria.

New industries

Mr Wannarat said that for decades the BoI had offered incentives for investors making a business investment in Thailand’s lower-income provinces.

However this had been a ‘hard sell’ as investors were more likely to start a production business in Thailand where there was existing infrastructure.

Newer industries such as renewable resources needed to be targeted as Thailand moved away from labour-intensive industries to higher-value production. This includes plans to increase biodiesel production to 8.5 million litres per day by 2012. This new fuel has a ready supply source in Thailand by way of palm oil – production has been tipped to reach 2.23 million tons.

Transparent policies

Attracting foreign investment also relies on transparent laws and policies. According to one international law firm in Thailand, BSA Law, some of the main issues which concern prospective investors include:

• Foreign ownership laws. The Foreign Business Act is a key piece of Thai law which restricts certain business activities for foreign companies;
• Trademark and patent protection, which is covered by Thailand law;
• Corruption in business dealings, which under Thai business law and other foreign laws can lead to heavy fines and jail terms.
• Thailand work permits and Thai labor laws, which set minimum wages, working hours and conditions such as severance pay.

The Thai government has recently established a sustainable energy plan to secure the country’s energy needs.

Its rich agricultural and manufacturing base has this kingdom uniquely poised to establish itself as a leader in alternative energy production.

Providing better incentives for direct foreign investment and more transparent foreign ownership laws (these are a minefield best negotiated with the help of a Thai law firm) can only be a step forward.

Does A Cleaning Business Need Liability Insurance?

A friend of mine was thinking of starting a cleaning business and she asked me what types of liability insurance she should consider. Here’s the advice I gave her…

Since she was starting out by herself, she would likely be considered an independent contractor. Contractors need insurance just like any other business that deals with clients and customers, and a janitorial or even a maid type cleaning service needs commercial liability insurance. Determining what level of liability insurance coverage a cleaning business requires varies from state to state, but in general there are a few commonly faced issues.

Considering all the risks faced by a janitorial company helps decide the level of liability coverage needed. A cleaning business needs to protect themselves from damaging a client’s property, damaging equipment and vehicles, personal injury, and even from crime. In addition, a janitorial company may consider insuring themselves from other problems such as damage caused by backed up drains and sewers, lost or damaged keys, and damage to business records.

If the business plans to employ others eventually, then more coverage may be needed, possibly even Worker’s Compensation Insurance, if you will offer your services in a state that requires workers comp or some form of it. Consider scenaries of an employee damaging an expensive wooden floor, or a dishonest employee pocketing something small but expensive, such as a cell phone or necklace from a client’s office. Without liability insurance to cover damaged property, employee theft, etc., a janitorial business could go find themselves on the wrong end of an expensive lawsuit.

To prevent costly out-of-pocket expenses, it is important that janitorial service businesses have liability insurance coverage that meets their needs. The best place to start is usually with a General Liability Insurance policy. In addition to general liability insurance, an umbrella policy may be a good idea for expensive claims that exceed a GLI policy limits.

The best thing to do is contact an insurance company that offers cleaning or janitorial business insurance packages and see what the agent recommends. Many insurers now offer deals that are specific to certain industries, and janitorial services is one of them. You may also want to ask them about getting bonded, which can help you get more clients. In fact, many larger business only let bonded cleaning companies bid on their available contracts, so adding a surety bond into your insurance portfolio is a good idea if you want to grow your business.

Which leads me to all the positive side effects of getting all the right coverage…

Most potential customers look to hire only cleaning companies with adequate liability coverage. They want to know, should damage or theft occur, that their property is protected. Customers also want to avoid costly lawsuits should an employee of a janitorial service get injured on their property. Therefore, a business with proper liability coverage is much more attractive to potential customers than an under-insured on non-insured company. Sharing with potential clients, the amount of liability coverage your janitorial business has, may give you an edge over other companies that lack proper coverage or simply don’t advertise it effectively.

While it may seem like a hassle and and added expense to buy insurance for a business that seems as simple as cleaning, it’s worth the time to shop around online and compare rates. You may also want to contact you existing agent and see if they offer business insurance and have them put together a quote for you as well. The time it takes is well worth it to protect yourself and your new business.