New booze tax in Thailand may drive many to hooch

Drunks are already a big problem in Thailand

Higher taxes to be levied on beer may force drinkers to turn more to local white spirits, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) has warned.

ThaiHealth chief executive officer Supreda Adulyanon said that the Finance Ministry will issue ministerial regulations to set new tax rates for alcohol and cigarettes under the new excise law, which will be enforced from Sept 16.

Under the new law, the suggested retail prices will replace the existing ex-factory prices and cost, insurance and freight values as a base for calculating the excise tax.

The change is aimed at creating a fairer system for manufacturers and importers after some businesses were found to exploit these values to understate their tax bills.

Regarding the different tax ceilings for liquor and beer, Mr Supreda said it is hard to say which one is higher because tax calculations are based on different alcohol content.

Supreda: White spirits worry

He said beer is often subject to a levy on prices, while liquor is subject to a levy on alcohol content.

However, under the new tax ceiling, the retail prices of liquor and beer will be not much different, and this could lead to consumers making unhealthy choices.

For example, local white spirits known as lao khao will be subject to a lower tax than beer, and some drinkers may therefore choose to drink the much stronger lao khao, Mr Supreda said.

“The new tax rates may prompt people to drink more white spirits,” Mr Supreda said. – Bangkok Post

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