Alcohol and duty reductions on suspended cigars to attract foreigners

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Customs Department plans to reduce import duties on alcoholic beverages and cigars by 50% for five years

The Customs Department is preparing to reduce import duties on alcoholic beverages and cigars by 50% for five years, in line with the government’s economic stimulus and investment promotion plan.

Patchara Anuntasilpa, chief executive of the department, said the cuts were in line with a September 14 cabinet resolution involving plans to revive the post-Covid-19 economy by encouraging wealthy foreigners and highly skilled professionals to stay and to work in the country.

The program is expected to attract over one million skilled people to Thailand over the next five years and generate around one trillion baht over the period. Reductions in import duties will be part of the mix.

The group is expected to spend an average of 1 million baht per person per year while staying and working here.

Package benefits also include 10-year Thai visa for approved special visitors along with their spouses and children, same income tax rates as Thai citizens, tax exemption for income earned abroad and the right to own property and land. .

Mr Patchara said about 30% of products are likely to be covered by the planned cuts and ministerial regulations will be announced once the changes are made. He said the department is also preparing to revise customs procedures for the personal effects of arriving and departing passengers.

Meanwhile, Roengrudee Patanavanicha, a tobacco control researcher, said the customs department’s decision caught her off guard as the new excise tax structure on cigarettes is expected to come into effect next month.

In the new system, a flat tax rate of 40% will be applied to cigarettes, regardless of the retail price.

She said the new tax could help reduce teen smoking and generate revenue for the state.

She rejected claims that continued high cigarette prices would lead to increased smuggling of contraband cigarettes.

“It is lax law enforcement, an inefficient tax system and the intervention of the tobacco industry that are contributing to the problem,” she said.

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