The cabinet on Tuesday approved a draft ministerial regulation to loosen curbs on liquor production by small-scale distillers.
The Finance Ministry’s proposal aimed at amending the Excise Tax Act (2017) and improving the criteria for liquor production and licence applications, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said.
Under the new regulation, the minimum registered capital for producers of fermented beverages, including beer and wine, will be lifted. However, they must be companies registered under Thai law and Thai nationals must acquire at least 51% of the shares. The minimum registered capital requirement is currently 10 million baht.
The new regulation will scrap the minimum beer production of 100,000 litres per year. However, the minimum production capacities for whisky, brandy and gin at 30,000 litres a day and for rice whisky at 90,000 litres a day will remain the same.
People will also be able to apply for production licences online.
"This is to promote competition in the business while the state's interest through its excise tax collection and the product quality and safety standards will remain unchanged," Mr Anucha said.
Dubbed the “progressive liquor bill”, it passed its first reading in parliament in June, and is now being scrutinised by a House panel.
Natthakorn Uthanesut, spokesman of the Excise Department, said the changes will cover two types of licences — one for the fermented beverage production and the other for communities’ locally-distilled spirits.
When the new regulation takes effect, these requirements will be lifted, though product quality and production facilities must meet the standards set by the Department of Industrial Works and the Pollution Control Department, Mr Natthakorn said.
Permission from the Excise Department will be required for production for household consumption, with 200 litres allowed annually. The production capacity for community liquor will also be increased to allow for 50-horsepower machinery and up to 50 workers, he said.
Government spokesman Anucha: Relaxed rules to promote competition. (Screenshot)