Cabinet approves draft liquor regulations
Move 'unlikely' to help small producers
The cabinet on Wednesday approved three draft ministerial regulations to give small-scale liquor producers a better chance of selling their products and developing the production of local liquors, but the regulations may end up doing the opposite of what they intend, according to experts.
The drafts are being designed in line with another ministerial regulation on liquor production, which came into effect on Nov 2 last year, deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said on Wednesday.
The three drafts are intended to facilitate the development of traditional alcoholic beverages produced by small, medium and household producers, she said.
The drafts came as the Move Forward Party's (MFP) so-called "progressive liquor bill" had been shot down previously.
The first ministerial regulation draft deals with the fees of various types of licences for producing liquor and spirits, which are grouped largely into main categories of fermented liquor and distilled spirits, said Ms Traisuree.
For the non-commercial production of fermented liquor, the fee to register for a licence is 360 baht, while the fee for a licence to produce distilled spirits at a non-commercial scale is 1,500 baht, she said.
The fee for a licence to produce fermented liquor at a commercial level ranges from 1,800 baht to 60,000 baht, depending on the size of the production capacity, she said.
The second ministerial regulation draft pertains to the rates of excise taxes each licence holder is required to pay per litre of pure alcohol content in the beverages produced, ranging from 150 baht to 1,500 baht, she said.
The third ministerial regulation draft has to do with specific types of revenue stamps for fermented liquor and distilled spirits produced in small- and medium-sized factories, she said.
Nonarit Bisonyabut, a senior researcher at the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), said the regulation drafts are destined to fail to address the problems of small, medium-scale and household producers of fermented liquor and distilled spirits being outcompeted and out-marketed by the big players.
The regulation drafts deal with licence fees and taxes, which in reality aren't the obstacles facing the small and medium-sized producers of alcoholic beverages at all, he said.
He said he understood that the government probably views these regulation drafts as the first step towards streamlining the system of liquor production before moving on to tackle more difficult challenges in related laws, he said.
The researcher warned liberating the production and sale of liquor may boost the economy. However, it comes at the price of worsening people's health in the long run.
Charoen Charoenchai, a lecturer with the Faculty of Agricultural Technology, Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi, said the government wasn't sincere when it said the draft regulations were aimed at helping those trying to produce liquor and beer more freely. Instead of making it easier, these regulations require them to pay fees which should be scrapped.