The Czech Association of Small Independent Breweries has said a Government plan to raise excise duty by a third threatens its members' existence.

In reaction to the plan to raise excise duty on beer by CK0.50 per litre from January 2010, the group said members would start calling their beers "malt wine" to escape the charge.

Wine, unlike beer, has since year has been levied with a zero excise duty in Czech Republic since 1999.

However, a Ministry of Finance spokesperson said of the Association's threat: "Anyone selling beer under such name would break the law and be prosecuted for tax evasion because the essence of the beverage remains the same, even if called differently."