THAI TAX BLAMED FOR SLOW BUSINESS

THAI TAX BLAMED FOR SLOW BUSINESS

Thailand's new value-added tax may boost inflation into double digits in the first half of 1992 and is already being blamed for a crimp in retail sales.

Central Department Store, a big Thai retail chain, said sales in January dropped 15 percent from the same month last year, Friday's Bangkok Post said. Other department stores reported 5 percent to 10 percent drops in sales.The 7 percent tax replaces an outdated and confusing system of 21 business tax rates that led to double taxation and tax evasion.

The government froze some prices after widespread complaints that companies had on Jan. 1 simply added 7 percent to existing sticker prices.

It says taxed prices of many products should come down because they were earlier subject to higher business tax.