Local liquor and beer producers on Friday called on the Move Forward Party (MFP) to push ahead with its progressive policy to liberalise liquor making and allow more small producers to enter the market.
Representatives from the Thai Domestic Liquor Association and the Thai Craft Beer Association said the MFP’s policy would break up the duopoly of the industry with a market value of 470 billion baht and pave the way for small operators nationwide.
“No government and no party has had this policy before, and we hope the Senate will support the MFP’s efforts to form the coalition government and create job opportunities for us,” said Somboon Kaewkiangkrai, chairman of the Thai Domestic Liquor Association.
MFP leader Pita Limjaroenrat thanked the groups for sharing the party’s vision of turning farm produce into value-added products and conserving local wisdom.
He said the new liquor policy could be implemented in the first 100 days of the MFP-led government, and it was part of the MFP’s economic policy to generate income and distribute wealth evenly.
He said legal amendments were required to support business operators and ensure that neither the public’s health nor the environment would be affected.
All ministries and coalition partners would be roped in to materialise the policy, he added.
According to Mr Pita, the MFP-led government would also consider promoting distilleries and breweries as tourist destinations to help generate income for producers.
The MFP leader insisted the policy does not seek to increase domestic alcohol consumption but to add value to existing products.
He said that’s why the party uses the term “progressive” when asked why it does not support the liberalisation of cannabis.
In the memorandum of understanding recently signed with seven prospective coalition partners, the MFP-led bloc pledges to put cannabis back on the narcotic drug list.
“We want to give tourists more choices … some geographically-specific products to add flavour to their experiences,” he said.
“We also want to export these products. We can also serve these products when hosting international conferences instead of foreign wines.”
Supapong Pruenglamphu, a representative from the Thai Craft Beer Association, said small operators are upbeat about the policy and are looking forward to owning a small brewery in their community.
Mr Supapong said he hopes the Senate and the MPs will support the MFP’s bid set up the government so the new liquor policy can take shape.
The MFP’s “progressive liquor” bill was shot down in its second and third readings at the House of Representatives late last year, shortly after the cabinet approved a new ministerial announcement on alcohol production control.
The party lambasted the new rules for posing stiffer barriers to small makers of alcoholic beverages and attempting to protect the interests of large alcohol makers.