By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's government on Wednesday approved an excise tax increase on beer and other alcoholic drinks to 9 percent from 7 percent in a bid to boost government revenue amid global economic slowdown.
Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said the increase of excise taxes on liquor, beer and brandy will be effective from Thursday onwards. The measure is expected to boost the government's income by 6.3 billion baht ($179 million), which will be used for investment in infrastructure projects.
The government also approved a budget worth 1.43 trillion baht ($41 billion) for investments in infrastructure projects for the next three years in a bid to stimulate the sluggish economy, Korn said.
Korn said the government plans to revise the excise tax structure further, which may include an increase in taxes on fuel and cigarettes.
Permanent secretary of Finance Ministry Suparat Kawatkul said tax revenues collected by the government during the last quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 fell by an estimate of 9 percent. Excise tax collection fell more than 20 percent on-year during the period due to lower consumer spending.
The Bank of Thailand last month forecast gross domestic product may shrink as much as 3.5 percent this year and said it may have to reduce the forecast further if domestic political turmoil exacerbates.
Domestic political uncertainties and falling exports amid global slumps have hurt investment, consumer spending and tourism in Southeast Asia's second-largest economy.