Landmark ‘progressive liquor bill’ on the verge of being ransacked by coup leaders to benefit incumbent big players

The “3 Ps” are looking to throw away the Progressive Liquor Bill to protect oligarchs’ interests, a lawmaker who introduced the bill told Thai Enquirer.

The Three Ps is a nickname given to the three generals who masterminded the 20134-coup including Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit “Pom” Wongsuwan and Interior Minister General Anupong “Pok” Paochind.

“This will be their last chance to show that they have the power to drop the bill,” Move Forward MP Taopiphop Limjittrakorn, one of the key proponents of the bill, told Thai Enquirer by phone when asked why the government is looking to throw away the bill in its 2nd reading.

“There could be many reasons why they want to throw it away where it can be a part of their political game but I believe it is more about protecting the interests of the large conglomerates or the oligarchs,” he said.

The historic bill passed its 1st reading in June. If it passed in its 2nd and 3rd readings which is slated for November 2, would allow Thais to practice home brewing and for small and medium breweries to enter the alcohol market.

As of now, home brewing without a license is against the law. Violators could face up to 6 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 stipulate 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 liters per year.

These rules have effectively blocked out small players to enter the market which has been under the control of 2 wealthy tycoon families for decades.

After passing its 1st reading, the bill was delayed during the scrutinizing process by a 25-member committee was set up to scrutinize the bill where government agencies and coalition MPs have been trying to stop the bill from going through to its 2nd reading.

However, the bill passed the scrutinizing process with minor adjustments, and it looked set to enter parliament for its 2nd and 3rd readings.

This was the case until Prayut told leaders of coalition parties in a 50-minute secret meeting that Prawit and Anupong also joined this week that allowing the bill to become law would be a bad idea, according to news reports and claims made by Taopiphop.

One of the points that were made by Prayut, according to news reports and Taopiphop, was that allowing the bill to go through could encourage more people to illegally brew their own alcoholic drinks which would lead to more drinking in the country.

“If they really believe that is true then they must stop the selling of all alcoholic drinks including the ones that are being sold by the large conglomerates,” Taopiphop told Thai Enquirer.

landmark ‘progressive liquor bill’ on the verge of being ransacked by coup leaders to benefit incumbent big players

Taopiphop Limjittrakorn

Despite the 3 Ps’ attempt to lobby coalition MPs away from the bill, Taopiphop said he still believes that the bill will pass its 2nd and 3rd readings, if opposition MPs continue to vote for it.

The bill passed its first reading by 178 versus 137 votes where the majority of the MPs who voted to approve the principles of the bill were opposition MPs.

“If all opposition MPs maintain their vote, the bill will pass,” Taopiphop said.

“I have also spoken to some coalition MPs and they have reassured me that they will maintain their approval for the bill because many people agree with the content of the bill and its intentions,” he said.