Press: Small brewers come together to combat bureaucracy

Czech microbreweries say they receive unfair treatment at the hands of the customs and tax authorities and are overburdened with red tape. Now the beer makers are coming together to lobby the minister of finance for change, Hospodářské noviny reported on Wednesday.

Photo: Ondřej TomšůPhoto: Ondřej Tomšů Small brewers in the Czech Republic have to repeatedly prove that their businesses are stable and are forced to pay large deposits to the tax authorities as a guarantee against prospective future infringements, Hospodářské noviny said.

Earlier this week a group of microbrewery owners came together in Prague to agree on a joint approach to dealing with the Ministry of Finance and the customs office.

The owner of Plzeň-based brewers Raven, Ladislav Vrtiš, told the business daily said that that laws relating to alcohol had been tightened up following a methanol scandal in 2012 in which more than three dozen people died of poisoning.

Mr. Vrtiš got the current debate going with a Facebook posting complaining about the approach customs officials’ approach to microbreweries.

He said he had been forced to pay a deposit of CZK 100,000 after Raven increased its output and became an “unstable firm” in the eyes of the customs authority.

In response to his post Mr. Vrtiš received a call from the minister of finance, Alena Schillerová, inviting him to a meeting.

Small beer makers are set to call on the minister to initiate changes to the regulations that govern their business.

The head of the president of the Czech Union of Microbreweries, Jan Šuráň, said at this week’s meeting that the focus should be on doing away with nonsensical red tape and the requirement to prove stability.

Mr. Šuráň said that in the past if an owner bought new tanks, customs officers would simply inspect them and that would be the end of it.

Now, however, the owner has to go through a laborious process of providing evidence of stability and then wait months for approval. The brewers want a return to the original situation.

Other proposals are to introduce a flat tax for all microbreweries, regardless of how much beer they produce and to exempt them from having to prove once a year that they are not in debt.

The meeting between the small brewers and Minister Schillerová is set for April 11, Hospodářské noviny reported. The ANO appointee says both sides will look for the best possible way forward.