The government is being urged to speed up improving relevant laws and regulations if it really wants to promote the bio, circular and green (BCG) economy.
Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of Mitr Phol Sugar Corp, Asia's largest sugar producer, said the private sector has already sent suggestions to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to accelerate amendments to regulations and laws that hinder the development of the BCG economy.
"Sugar cane factories are still restricted from using sugar and molasses byproduct to increase value or produce other products," he said.
"The Liquor Act of 1950 requires alcohol factories to export their entire alcohol production."
Only seven factories are under the supervision of the Excise Department, making a combined 380,000 litres of alcohol per day, said Mr Isara. The entirety of their alcohol production is exported.
The Liquor Distillery Organisation is the only factory supervised by the Finance Ministry allowed to produce ethyl alcohol from molasses as a raw material, making 60,000 litres per day.
This ethyl alcohol is used for food and pharmaceutical industries.
The government allows 26 factories to produce ethanol with a capacity of 6.95 million litres per day, but these factories are required to supply their production for fuel purposes only, he said.
Mr Isara agrees with the government's policy to focus on the food and medical industries to boost the Thai economy, but noted Thailand has excellent potential to succeed in BCG industries, which use raw materials from agriculture products.
"The company has maintained investment despite weak overall consumption because of the pandemic," he said.
The government is adopting a "BCG model" for economic development to reach the ambitious goal of raising Thailand's GDP by 1 trillion baht over the next five years to 4.4 trillion.
Suvit Maesincee, minister for higher education, science, research and innovation who heads the BCG economy development panel, said Gen Prayut pledged to allocate a higher budget for fiscal 2021 to the ministry and related agencies to drive BCG economy.
The ministry has established seven committees from the public and private sector to drive the industry: agriculture, food, pharmaceutical and vaccines, medical equipment, energy, tourism and the circular economy.