The opposition Move Forward Party (MFP)’s Progressive Liquor Bill, which seeks to amend the Excise Tax Act to liberalize the Thai liquor industry, failed twice in the 3rd reading in Parliament yesterday, November 2nd.
The bill was voted down by 177 to 174 in the first round of voting and then 196 to 194 in the second roll-call voting. The roll-call voting was requested by the MFP’s Bangkok MP, Natthaphong Ruengpanyawut, who reasoned he needed another vote to confirm the results because the margin of votes was fewer than 25 votes.
This officially terminated yet another opposition bill; however, Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the MFP, and Taopiphop Limjittrakorn, MFP’s MP and key proponent of the Progressive Liquor Bill, said they would continue to fight for small brewers’ rights and push for changes to the ministerial regulation for alcohol production, in case they won the next general election likely in May 2023, and got to be in charge.
The Cabinet issued ministerial regulations to ease control on the production of liquor and beer on November 1st, just one day before the MFP’s bill, which seeks to ease a similar issue, entered the parliamentary deliberation on November 2nd.
This was widely viewed as a political move by the government to pre-empt the passage of the MFP’s bill.
The content of the ministerial regulations includes:
- The removal of requirements for a minimum registered capital of 10 million baht to obtain a license to produce beer, wine, sparkling wine, and homebrew liquor as well as a minimum production capacity of 100,000 liters per year for beer production
- The easing of restrictions to set up small and medium-sized distilleries and to get licenses to produce no more than 200 liters of liquor per year but not for commercial purposes for individuals over 20 and legal entities
The regulations still prohibit the sale or distribution of liquor produced for domestic consumption.