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Phuket Business: Beer, wine and automobile excises poised for revision

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Business: Beer, wine and automobile excises poised for revision | The Thaiger

PHUKET: In light of Cabinet’s recent approval of tax hikes for cigarettes and liquor, the Excise Department is now looking to increase revenue shares from the trade of beer, wine and automobiles.

Quoted in a report by the Nation, Benja Louichareon, director-general of the Excise Department, said, “The department is also looking at whether it should increase tax on beer and wine.”

Since the rates levied on beer and wine have already reached the ceiling of 60% of the value, or 100 baht per liter, the department would need to propose a law amendment to the government in order to do this, she said.

The aim was to create equality in the liquor market, as well as to reduce consumption, she claimed.

Following the cabinet decision, the retail price of liquor increased by an average of 10-20 baht per bottle.

White spirit, which accounts for a large portion of the Thai liquor market, was unlikely to be significantly affected. ThaiBev enjoys the biggest share of this product, which is popular in the Northeast.

Benja said she did not believe there would be much smuggling of imported liquor and cigarettes as a result of the new tax rates.

Moreover, consumers were unlikely to shift from liquor to either wine or beer, as they were different markets, the department chief noted.

Following Cabinet’s approval of excise hikes on liquor and cigarettes, the duty levied on white spirits rose from 120 to 150 baht per liter, while that on blended spirits increased from 300 to 350 baht per liter, and that on brandy from 45 to 48% of sales value.

Meanwhile, the duty on cigarettes rose from 85 to 87% of sales value.

Benja also clarified that as a result of the tax hikes, the cost of a packet of cigarettes would be 3 to 14 baht higher, while white spirits would increase by 5-7 baht a bottle; blended spirits 8-12 baht more per bottle, and a bottle of brandy would be 3-12 baht more expensive.

Some activists have warmly welcomed the government’s decision to raise the tax on cigarettes and liquor, describing it as a move that would reduce the damage on the country as a whole.

“More than half of all [crime] offenses committed are related to alcohol consumption,” Thirapat Kahawong, the head of an anti-alcohol network, said.

He was among 30 activists who showed up at the Excise Department to express support for the government’s decision.

Jadet Chaowilai, an adviser to the Network of Alcohol Victims, said the move would reduce the number of injuries, disabilities and deaths caused by alcoholic beverages.

“The move is for the good health and well-being of people,” he said.

A study commissioned by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation suggests higher cigarette prices will reduce the number of Thai smokers by about 0.5 %.

“The number of smokers should drop by between 60,000 and 70,000,” said the foundation’s deputy manager, Supreeda Adulyanon.

“We will have to introduce other measures too, such as limiting the availability of cigarettes.”

Thailand is currently home to about 13 million smokers.

Beyond cigarettes and booze, Ms Benja revealed that the government is also considering raising the bar for automobiles.

The Excise’s Department’s director-general said a new car tax would aim to limit the emission of carbon dioxide, instead of promoting power efficiency, which is a key priority under the government’s current eco-car tax scheme.

Under the proposed new tax structure, the lowest rates would be applied to passenger cars that discharge no more than 100 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. The next lowest rate would be applied to cars not exceeding 150g/km, and the next rate to those emitting no more than 200g/km. A punitive rate would be applied to those releasing more than 200g/km.

She said the existing tax incentives did not work as envisaged by the department. For example, those who drive passenger cars that could run on E85 (fuel that is 85 per cent
ethanol) or E20 tend to use E10 instead, anyway.

Currently, the tax rates for cars powered by E85 vary from 22 to 32%, depending on the level of engine power.

Hybrid-electric vehicles with no more than 3,000 cubic centimeters of cylinder capacity currently enjoy the lowest tax rate of 10%. Cars retrofitted for natural gas for vehicles, or NVG, also enjoy tax incentives.

Benja views these different tax rates as complicated and not achieving the intended goal.

In any case, the director-general said that more consultation with auto manufacturers was needed before changes could be made, adding that she understood the industry had invested a lot of money to meet the current tax-incentive criteria. Some car makers have asked for an adjustment period of three to five years.

— The Nation / Phuket Gazette

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Thailand

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military

Maya Taylor

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Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook

Facebook has confirmed the removal of 185 accounts run by the Thai military and allegedly involved in information-influencing. The social media giant says the accounts were deleted for engaging in what it calls, “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. In total, 77 accounts, 72 pages, and 18 groups have been removed from the platform, in addition to 18 Instagram accounts. It’s the first time Facebook has taken such action against accounts linked to the Thai government.

The accounts were associated with the Thai military and were targeting people in the southern provinces, Facebook said its regular report on coordinated inauthentic behavior. The south of the country has been the scene of decades-long conflict, with insurgent groups in the majority-Muslim, Malay-speaking region calling for independence. To date, around 7,000 people have died in the ongoing struggle.

Facebook says the deleted accounts were most active last year and used both fake and real accounts to manage pages and groups, both openly military pages and pages that hid their links to the military. Some of the fake profiles pretended to be people from the southern provinces.

The report mentioned a post by the now-removed account named “comprehending the operation” in Thai. The page posted the logo for Amnesty International Thailand and wrote “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role in society. Normal people are not famous. Any case is not big news. They are not worth the investment of foreigners so they will not do anything to help. This is why we don’t see anything from the NGO.”

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | News by The Thaiger

Image overlay translates to “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role nor money.”

On another now-removed account, named “truth about my home Pattani” in Thai, a post said “Muslim leader declares southern border is a peace zone. The southern separatists started a movement by spreading the idea that Thailand is under control by different believers so that people would come and fight for their religion. This was declared that the action clearly violates Islam faith.”

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | News by The Thaiger

Image overlay translates to “Southern border is not Jihad zone.”

When contacted by Reuters, the military had no comment on the removal of the Facebook accounts, with a spokesman saying the organisation does not comment outside of official press conferences.

The head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, Nathaniel Gleicher, has confirmed the reasons behind the platform’s decision.

“This is the first time that we’ve attributed one of our takedowns to links to the Thai military. We found clear links between this operation and the Internal Security Operations Command. We can see that all of these accounts and groups are tied together as part of this operation.”

He adds that the accounts had spent around US$350 on advertising on both Facebook and Instagram. One or more of the pages had about 700,000 followers and at least one of the groups had 100,000 members. Gleicher says the accounts were removed because of their misleading behaviour and not because of the content being posted. The content included support for the military and the monarchy, with allegations of violence and criticism of insurgent groups in the south.

It’s not the first time accounts linked to the Thai military have been removed by a social media platform. In October, Twitter removed 926 accounts it says had links to the army and posted pro-military and pro-government content. The Thai army has denied any involvement with the accounts in question. In November, Twitter also suspended an account posting pro-monarchy content that was found to have links to the palace and to thousands of other accounts posting similar content.

To read the February 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report, click HERE.

SOURCES: Reuters| Facebook

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Central Thailand

Airline executive arrested for failure to pay wages of 150 workers

Maya Taylor

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Airline executive arrested for failure to pay wages of 150 workers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

An airline executive has been arrested in the central province of Samut Songkhram, after complaints from150 employees that they had not been paid. Chawengsak Noiprasan, who had a court warrant issued against him in October, was taken to Don Muang police station from a property in the Bang Khan Take sub-district. He is a board member of Siam Air Transport.

The airline began operations in October 2014 with services out of Don Mueang to Hong Kong, using 2 Boeing 737-300s. 2 Boeing 737-800s were added to its fleet in late 2015. It expanded by adding Zhengzhou and Guangzhou in China to its network in early 2015. In late 2015, the airline launched flights to Macau and Singapore. In 2017, the airline ceased all operations.

But according to an article in the Bangkok Post, the carrier operates a number of scheduled and charter flights from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport. The Post reports that, as Chawengsak signs the company’s legal paperwork, all legal matters concerning the airline fall to him.

The Metropolitan Police Bureau says the executive has admitted to ignoring a 30 day notice issued by the labour inspector and ordering the payment of wages to 150 workers. It’s understood he is also wanted in relation to 7 other cases.

The authorities sought Chawengsak’s arrest following complaints from employees who say they haven’t received their wages for 2 months. It’s understood the airline had previously deferred salary payments for over 8 months. 150 workers filed an official complaint with Don Mueang police and also approached media outlets, asking them to pressure the airline into paying the money owed.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Business

Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO | The Thaiger

We look at the recent changes made by the Australian and Indian governments to except control over the world’s biggest social media platforms. India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social. There is now an open battle between the rise of social media platforms and the governments and ‘old’ media that have been able to maintain a certain level of control over the ‘message’ for the last century. Who will win?

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told. The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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