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The historic Progressive Liquor Bill could become law before the end of 2022, a parliamentarian who introduced the new Bill told Thai Enquirer on Monday.
Move Forward MP Taopiphop Limjittrakorn, one of the key proponent of the bill, told Thai Enquirer by phone that the draft still had to make its way through a committee before a second and third reading but that he was feeling ‘positive.’
A 25-member committee was set up to scrutinise the Bill after it passed its first reading last week.
If passed, the Progressive Liquor Bill would allow Thais to practice homebrewing and for small and medium breweries to enter the alcohol market.
As of now, homebrewing without a license is against the law. Violators could face up to six months in jail or a fine of up to 100,000 baht, or both.
Under the Excise Tax Act, the 2017 Ministerial Regulations on Alcohol Production also stipulates that only registered companies are allowed to apply for an alcohol production license, with some exceptions.
For registered companies to apply for a license, they must have a registered capital of at least 10 million baht and they must have a production capacity of between 100,000 and one million litres per year.
But Taopiphop said these current rules are not fair for small players as they only allow a few companies belonging to extremely wealthy tycoon families to control the market. He said he introduced the bill in order to even the playing field.
Taopiphop told Thai Enquirer that the committee in charge of scrutinising the Bill has so far discussed regulations to control homebrewing for personal use, and they’ve also considered lowering requirements to acquire an alcohol production license.
“The committee probed related government agencies on reasons why these requirements are so strict to the point where there are only five beer processing plants operating in Thailand,” Taopiphop said.
“The only understandable reason we received so far was quality control,” he said.
He said the government still wants to provide a forum for large companies to air their grievances but the committee disagreed as the bill already passed its first reading.
He said there was no point in allowing large companies to provide any more objections against allowing small and medium breweries to gain a production license.
“If there are going to be lectures, it will take even longer than two months to discuss things that were decided by parliamentarians already,” he said.
Taopiphop was arrested for brewing craft beer without permission in January 2017. The arrest was before he became an MP.