One year on, liquor import policy unchanged

In October and December last year, the ministry raided three liquor suppliers, the most high-profile being Quarto Products and Premium Distribution, City Mart’s import and distribution subsidiary. Two other raids found liquor hidden in trucks.

Court cases against the companies in question are ongoing.

Negotiations with importers are still continuing, with the restrictions on the issuance of liquor importation licences potentially costing the state millions in lost taxes, industry observers say.

Ministry director U Tin Ye Win, who is responsible for the mobile teams that conducted last year’s raids, said liquor imports had been permitted since July, but importers and retailers had yet to put forward their views on the policy. The negotiations also concern taxes to be levied on the sale of existing stocks, as well as what brands each importer may import.

U Tin Ye Win said, “We worry that some traders have imported more than their licence permits, and the new policy would be tighter.”

U Aung Naing Myint, an executive member of the Myanmar Retailers’ Association, said he understood that officials were planning to attach a security tax tag on bottles of imported liquor, though this has reportedly not been discussed in detail. He said large quantities of liquor entered the country illegally through the border posts of Myawaddy and Muse, some of it under false labels of famous brands.

“Retailers are getting ready to sell officially, but prices would inevitably rise,” he said, as importers had to pay increased duty, said U Aung Naing Myint.

Meanwhile, the Myanmar Investment Commission plans to permit at least one foreign-backed brewery to operate in-country, said MIC secretary U Aung Naing Oo.

Three local breweries currently produce 20 million litres, or about 30 percent of local consumption, with the remaining 70pc illegally imported. MIC has already approved permission for Heineken and Carlsberg to build breweries Yangon and Bago respectively.


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