Stickman Readers' Submissions September 20th, 2004


By Bluetail

Lately, there have been changes in the requirements for obtaining a number of the different visas one can (possibly) get to enter / stay in Thailand. I read a note in the paper where someone high up was claiming that a foreigner (here meaning a farang)
can not manage to live in Thailand with as little as 10,000 a month in income. That started me thinking.

I personally know people living, even in places like Chiang Mai, on modest retirement money – in the 10,000 baht a month area. Then what if you are living somewhere in a village in Isaan? Wonderful people all around, who themselves makes
on average less than 2,000 baht a month.

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Now, assuming you are living with a Thai wife and a bit of her family around, 10K a month would be a rather nice supplement to the family income. OK, you would be no rich farang buying new cars and houses. But money to send some kids to school.
Pay the bills. Downpayment on a Honda Dream. Such things.

There are quite a few retirees living with Thai families around in the Kingdom. Presumably, most of them get by. Otherwise they would not be likely to keep on staying, by my logic.

Now. Excluding retirees that receive less than 32,000 baht a month (the requirement if you can show 400,000 baht in your Thai bank transferred from abroad) may not be all that good for business. If your business is running Thailand.

There is a difference between circulating local currency within its country, and circulating foreign currency. Input of foreign currency adds to the total, much more so than moving about existing local funds.

If you have a total of 5,000 foreigners living on modest pensions of, say, 10,000 baht on average, that amounts to 50,000,000 baht a month, or 600,000,000 baht a year in foreign currency added to the Thai national economy.

These numbers are likely to be way too small, I am being very conservative here in my estimates. Most retirees I know have more like 30,000 to 50,000 baht a month to spend. They may not spend all they get, but it goes into Thai bank accounts.
Nevertheless the money is going into the economy in the form of currency reserves.

What if the real numbers where something like 10,000 foreigners each receiving an average of 25,000 baht a month (still a lot less than the current requirement) from abroad? That gives you 3,000,000,000 (3 billion) baht a year.

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Why not make it as easy as possible for these people to stay in Thailand? It is like making free money, to me. And look at Spain in Europe. That country has gotten stinking rich by being attractive to retirees from other countries.

Then there is the working part of the expat community. Granted, many here are being paid in Thai baht by local companies. Many, if not most of these, are English teachers. Bringing with them desperately needed language skills. Other foreigners
employed by Thai companies are experts – otherwise they would not be here – doing jobs local talent are unable to.

But many international enterprises send executives here from abroad. And in those circles, salaries between 200,000 to 600,000 baht a month is common. And additionally, for many of those folks money is spent on them by their companies on
luxury apartments, luxury cars, maids, drivers and so on.

If you have 1,000 executives in Bangkok making an average of 300,000 baht a month, that is another 300,000,000 baht a year coming in. I am confident that this number is also far lower than what is reality.

So get on with the work permits!

I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of decision makers do not have access to statistics on the amount of foreign currency brought in to Thailand by resident foreigners. If they did, it would be a good thing. Thailand needs the currency
brought in by these / us people very much. Someone might realise how much is contributed to the national economy, if enough people "up there" had hard info on the numbers involved.

Furthermore, so much of the money coming in as foreign currency is distributed in ways that benefits local communities and common folks. Local markets, small repair shops, ye olde downpayment-on-the-washing-machine guy. The village doctor.
The local Honda dealership.

And the big boys on the top get their part as well, after the funds in motion have circulated upwards to the Siam Cement company, Honda Thailand Ltd. and so forth.

Actually, if I was one of the owners of Big Car and Bike Import Co. Ltd. or holding the franchise on We-Cure-The-Buffalo-Shop Thailand Ltd. I would be shouting myself hoarse getting decision makers to import more farang. Perhaps I would finance
"free business class getting here with your visa included" schemes.

And get TAT on the horn, have them spend some of their marketing founds telling the western world what a perfect place Thailand can be to bring your retirement money. Provided someone remakes some of the rules, that is.

Would someone perhaps translate this into Thai, and send a mass mail to politicians, journalist and bureaucrats nationwide. It would be nice if someone in the upper echelons could catch a bit more on to some of the positive aspects of having
foreigners living and working in the Kingdom.

Stickman’s thoughts:

Oh, I am sure that the powers that be have VERY accurate figures of the number of foreigners here and the economic impact they make.

nana plaza