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Work permit fees set to rise 10-fold as MPs pass bill

No increase since 1978, House told
by Surasak Tumcharoen

Legislation providing for a 10-fold increase in the fee for work permits issued to foreigners received overwhelming support in the House yester

Members passed a bill to raise the cost of an extended work permit from Baht 1,000.- to Baht 10,000.-. The cost of a second-class permit would increase from Baht 300.- to Baht 3,000.- baht and the fee for a change of job or workplace would rise from Baht 500.- to Baht 5,000.-. The cost of an application would rise to Baht 100.-.

Labour Minister Dej Boonlong said the decision had been made in light of a devalued Thai Baht and economic changes over the past years. Present fees had been set in 1978. 

The number of foreigners working either legally or illegally in the country had risen considerably, although it had been officially reported to be only about 120,000. Many foreigners had slipped into the country and been illegally employed, especially in the provinces lying around the capital, he said.

Several MPs commented that those foreigners, believed to in the millions, could be arrested on charges of illegal entry and deported at any given time; Pirapan Saleerathavipak (Dem) said the new fee was only a "slight" increase, compared to fees charged in the United States and frequent devaluations of the Thai Baht. 

Many illegal workers had paid kickbacks of between Baht 500.- and Baht 10,000.- each to corrupt authorities in exchange for being provided with lodging and jobs, said Suvaroat Palang (Dem). "They can even buy themselves a bogus id card. They send thejr children to a school where they may graduate with a secondary level of education, though they will remain foreigners without Thai nationality," he said. "Some end up working in the flesh trade or committing crimes."

Up to 80% of Burmese illegal migrants had found work in the fishing industry, factories,
rubber plantations and shrimp farms in the south and lower central region. Seksan Sanpoom (Thai Rak Thai) said a large number of foreigners managed to find jobs and never bothered to pay any sort of fee. He urged the government to crack down on illegal foreigners, including those who make a living begging in Bangkok.

Bangkok Post, April 19, 2001

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