Pita vows to liberalise liquor industry in 100 days of govt

SATURDAY, MAY 27, 2023

Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat has pledged to reform liquor laws in the first 100 days of his administration to end monopolies and allow local brewers to bring their products into the market.

He made the remark while receiving a petition from representatives of the Thai Craft Brewers Association and Thai Local Spirit Association at the Move Forward headquarters on Friday.

Somboon Kaewkriangkrai, president of the Thai Local Liquor Association, said Move Forward’s progressive liquor policy has given small liquor producers across the country hope since the passing of the Liquor Act in 1950.

Though Thailand's spirits market is worth hundreds of millions of baht, he said it was monopolized by a handful of capitalists. 

Somboon Kaewkriangkrai

"No political party has ever spoken so clearly in the past. Today, we ask senators to support the successful establishment of this government," he said.

Meanwhile, Supapong Pruenglamphu, a representative from the Craft Beer Trade Association, said the group has been working with Move Forward since it was the opposition and has seen how serious the party is about solving the monopoly problem.

“We [small brewers] don't want to compete with big magnates; instead, we want to develop our own products. We would like to encourage all parties to work with Move Forward to form a government as soon as possible, so they can implement policies that will benefit the people,” he said. 

Thanking the groups for supporting his party’s progressive policy on liquor, Pita said one way to boost the local economy would be to let villagers use their agricultural produce to create value-added products like beer and wine. 

Pita vows to liberalise liquor industry in 100 days of govt

The PM-hopeful also expressed gratitude to Move Forward MP Taopiphop Limjittrakorn who has been working on helping small Thai brewers and distributors enter the market.

He expects that with this move, Thailand will be able to serve locally-made wine at international events rather than imported varieties. 

However, he said, the move will require ministerial regulations on finance to be amended and will involve several parties. 

This, Pita said, was only the first step as there are many other issues that need to be discussed and addressed. 

Pita vows to liberalise liquor industry in 100 days of govt

Since its inception as an opposition party in Parliament, the Move Forward Party has been calling for reforming the country’s liquor laws. The government accused its “progressive” draft bill of being too lax and potentially endangering consumers and state revenues.

Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who oversees the government's legal affairs, had said in November that the Cabinet had loosened controls on alcohol production. The new regulations allowed people to brew alcohol at home without requiring permission, provided it was not for commercial purposes. 

Wissanu had said that this way people can keep folk wisdom alive. 

Move Forward’s “progressive” spirits bill was shot down in Parliament after the second and third readings late last year because the Cabinet claimed the government’s bill was similar.