Khamis, 17 Oktober 2013

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The Star Online: Nation

Cheap foreign beer pouring into country, even to established supermarts


PETALING JAYA: There is an influx of cheap foreign beer in the market and it may be costing the country up to RM250mil in lost taxes annually.

Industry sources claim that beer with high alcohol content from Thailand, the Philippines, China and Europe have flooded the market and are being sold at almost half the price of locally-produced beer at coffeeshops, convenience stores, medical halls and even some established supermarkets here.

The low prices and easy availability have made the brew attractive to all beer consumers, particularly the lower income group, such as labourers and migrant workers. It is learnt that consumers are switching from locally-produced beer to compounded hard liquor because of the high price of local beer due to high excise duties.

"The supply of cheap foreign beer, with a higher-than-average alcohol volume, has increased five-fold in the past five to seven years. In the past, such beer could be found in smaller sundry shops in suburban areas, and stocked at the rear of the stores.

"But recently, the beer has made its way into 60% of retail outlets, mostly small retailers such as sundry shops and liquor shops," said one source. "They have also gained ground and are now even found in some major supermarkets and with liquor distributors."

The sources cited reports and analysis, which estimated that the uncollected duty from cheap imported beer to be around RM250mil while the total tax evasion from all alcoholic beverages could be as high as RM1bil.

The report noted that while tax losses from beer smuggling in Malaysia are lower compared to smuggling of other liquors in terms of the amount of duty paid, the sheer volume of illicit beer makes up for its lower profit margins.

Another source pointed out that imported beer should logically cost more than locally produced beer if legally brought into the country as the import tax alone would be about RM5 per litre.

Moreover, importers should pay a higher excise duty on beer with higher alcohol content.

The sources also questioned how foreign beer, despite having almost twice the alcohol content of locally-brewed beer, could be sold for as low as RM4.29 per 330ml can or RM7 per 550ml can (in some places, it's only RM5) compared to premium imported beer brands that were priced from RM9 per bottle.

A Customs Department official, who declined to be named, said beer pricing was not regulated by the department.

"Sometimes, beer is sold cheap when near its expiry date."

Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Hasan Malek said the ministry worked together with other agencies during raids where there are cases of counterfeit beer.

"We have just called for a joint meeting with other agencies to discuss how we can work together to solve this problem," he said.

Related stories:

You can tell a smuggled beer by its price, warns Customs

20 foreign brands the toast of drinkers

Matriculation student killed in highway crash


BATU PAHAT: A trip back to her campus in Seremban ended in tragedy for an 18-year-old matriculation student after the car she was travelling in with five other family members crashed along KM104 of the North-South Expressway here.

Nur Zahirah Hussin suffered major head injuries while her father, mother, two sisters and a friend were injured.

Nur Zahirah succumbed to her injuries while receiving treatment at the Sultanah Fatimah Specialist Hospital in Muar.

It is believed that the Toyota Fortuner driven by her father skidded and turned turtle at the side of the road in the accident that occurred at 10.30am.

A friend, Nur Balqish Zamri, 18, when met at the hospital, said Nur Zahirah was supposed to sit for her examinations tomorrow.

She said the last time they met was last Friday before they left for home to celebrate Hari Raya Aidiladha.

"We usually communicate through Twitter and I remember her telling me that she may not be able to meet up because she was busy preparing for her final semester examinations," Nur Balqish said.

Batu Pahat OCPD Asst Comm Din Ahmad confirmed the case, adding that the cause of the incident was still under investigation.

151 police trainees down with food poisoning


SEREMBAN: Up to 151 auxiliary police trainees at the Police Training Centre at Ayer Hitam, Jempol, came down with suspected food poisoning.

Eighteen of them were admitted to Jempol Hospital and the others received outpatient treatment, said Negri Sembilan Health Department director Datuk Dr Zailan Adnan.

They suffered from vomitting and diarrhoea after having chicken rendang for dinner on Tuesday, she said at her office here.

Dr Zailan said 12 of the 18 warded trainees had been discharged.

The department was trying to determine the cause of the food poisoning, she said, adding that the food the trainees had consumed was prepared at the training centre's kitchen, and not by any caterer. — Bernama


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