Bill boost for small distillers

Bill boost for small distillers

Small-scale distillers cleared a major hurdle towards being allowed to operate in Thailand after the House passed a bill by 178 votes to 137 in favour of the proposal on Wednesday night.

The bill to amend the Excise Tax Act to permit their market entry was put forward by a group of Move Forward Party MPs led by Taopiphop Limjittrakorn, who represents Bangkok.

Before the vote, Prime Minister's Office Minister Anucha Nakasai said the government and the Excise Department disagreed with the amendment because existing regulations could be changed to allow small distillers to operate.

The Department of Disease Control also expressed concern about the possibility of substandard liquor entering the market. Mr Taopiphop replied by saying the government should not block small distillers from seeking the opportunity to earn money.

Other MPs supported him, saying the amended bill would boost the value of farm produce. They also said the constitution guarantees people's right to make a fair living, and any attempt to stop people from producing liquor for commercial use with the proper permits would be unconstitutional.

A representative from the Finance Ministry said it would take about three months to change the relevant ministerial regulations, adding that conditions on licence applications and capital requirements would also now have to be changed.

The current law requires private individuals starting a liquor business to obtain permission from the director-general of the Excise Department to own a still. It also requires distillers to have a large amount of registered capital.


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