Cabinet passes ‘half measure’ in bid to sink progressive liquor bill
The Cabinet on Tuesday approved a ministerial regulation easing controls on alcohol production ahead of Parliament’s deliberation of the opposition’s “progressive liquor bill”.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the ministerial regulation was approved because the first regulation passed in 2017 was too strict.
He said the government had loosened controls on production after considering the Move Forward Party’s draft liquor bill. Move Forward MP Taopiphop Limjittrakorn has accused the government of trying to derail the bill, which would reduce barriers to allow small brewers to enter a market currently dominated by two giant companies. The bill passed the first reading in June and is due to be debated in its second and third readings in Parliament this week.
Wissanu said the Move Forward bill was too loose and might endanger consumers and state revenues.
Wissanu, who is in charge of the government’s legal affairs, said he was not trying to outsmart the House of Representatives with the new ministerial regulation. Instead, it addressed demands for relaxed regulation on liquor production, especially homebrewing for non-commercial purposes using local folk wisdom, he said.
The regulation would not affect government revenue while allowing small brewers to operate without permission from authorities, he added. It will come into effect after being published in the Royal Gazette.
Wissanu also claimed that Move Forward Party’s progressive liquor bill was no longer necessary as the new ministerial regulation was almost the same.
He denied the move was political, saying the regulation had been drawn up six months before the progressive liquor bill was proposed.
Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat have asked the public to monitor the second reading of the bill in Parliament on Wednesday. MP Taopiphop sent an open letter on October 26 warning Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to stay away from the bill.