Landmark bill to liberalize Thailand’s liquor industry passes first reading
Opposition party Move Forward’s Progressive Liquor Bill, which aims to break the entrepreneurial brewer’s oligopoly and provide business opportunities for small community entrepreneurs, passed its first reading in the Lower House last night (Wednesday), by 178 votes to 137, with 15 abstentions.
A 25-member committee has been set up to review the bill over the next seven days, before it is resubmitted for its second and final reading in the House of Representatives.
The 178 MPs who voted for the bill included a number from the government camp, including 23 Democrat MPs, 9 from Bhumjaithai and two from the Palang Pracharath party.
After the vote, opposition Move Forward MPs cheered and cheered, as several of them hugged Taopiphop Limjittrakorn, who had proposed the bill.
The bill had been rejected by the cabinet during its first deliberation by the lower house in February. The House then voted 207:196 in favor of Cabinet considering the bill, meaning the bill stalled before it could be returned to the House for debate yesterday.
Activist against the oligopoly of alcohol production in Thailand, Taopiphop was arrested about five years ago for producing his own craft beer.
Ahead of yesterday’s debate, Move Forward party leader Pita Limjaroenrat told the media that the Bill, along with the Marriage Equality Bill, both proposed by the party, will pave the way to positive changes in Thailand if adopted. law.
He said that the passing of the Progressive Liquor Bill can be seen as an achievement of equality in business as it will enable local communities to process their agricultural products into alcoholic beverages, adding that the passing of the two bills would send a message to the world that Thailand is on the path to change for the better.