BANGKOK, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Thailand’s finance minister on Friday said the ministry was considering a plan to offer tax incentives to encourage mergers among the country’s commercial banks to create institutions able to compete with foreign banks, including regional competitors.
“Our policy is not to force but to give incentives to motivate them into thinking... because Thailand does not have a bank that can be called a champion bank that can compete with overseas,” Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong told reporters in Bangkok.
“So we will use tax incentives to help as a deciding factor,” he said, without giving details or naming any Thai banks.
Apisak said Thai banks were small compared with Singapore and Malaysian ones, and their size was impeding them from doing business outside of Thailand.
Thailand’s five biggest lenders are Bangkok Bank, Krung Thai Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, Kasikornbank and Bank of Ayudhya.
In June, Thailand’s central bank said it would relax foreign exchange rules, including allowing more Thais to directly invest abroad.
The central bank said Thailand’s commercial banks would also be allowed to lend baht to non-residents for investment. (Reporting by Kitipong Thaicharoen; Additional reporting by Pilaiporn Promsompan; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Richard Borsuk)