Increasing opposition to government withdrawing Philip Morris lawsuit
The Thailand Health Promotion Institute has joined anti-tobacco advocates in opposing the recommendation from the Foreign Ministry that the Thai government withdraw the 60 billion baht lawsuit against Philip Morris, the American cigarette manufacturer, for alleged tax evasion.
THPI president Dr. Hathai Chitanont said, since the government has adequate evidence to substantiate the tax evasion charges against Philip Morris, it should allow the lawsuit to proceed in the national and public health interest.
Philip Morris is accused of under-declaring the price of cigarettes imported into Thailand by 7 baht per pack while the retail price was set at 145 baht, causing the state to lose import tax revenue, estimated at about 60 billion baht over several years.
Regarding a complaint filed with the World Trade Organization against the Thai government by the Philippine government, Dr. Hathai admitted he had no idea what the motive behind the Philippine complaint is, but he suspected it might concern Philip Morris, noting that the giant cigarette producer built a huge cigarette factory in Manila in 2000.
Meanwhile, Mr. Wasin Pipattanachat, assistant director of the research centre for tobacco control at Ramathibodi Hospital, said the government should weigh the pros and cons between the health of the Thai people and the vested interests of the cigarette manufacturer, as well as Thailand’s obligations to the World Health Organization over the Framework Convention on Tobacco control and not just the obligation with WTO.
Foreign Minister Don Paramudvinai reportedly asked Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to issue an executive decree to withdraw the Philip Morris lawsuit.