The Jakarta Post
The government is considering issuing a regulation on liquor that would require manufacturers to either use plain packaging or place graphic warnings on packaging in a bid to lower the number of alcoholic beverage consumers.
Deputy Trade Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi confirmed on Friday, saying that the regulation was being drafted. The requirement to use the specific packaging will apply to liquor with alcohol content of 20 percent or above.
'We want people to be warned about the dangers of consuming alcoholic drinks. We see a lot of problems caused by the habit, including pertaining to health and crimes, among other things,' he told reporters at his office.
The specific time frame of when the new policy would be rolled out was still unclear, as the government still needed to talk to stakeholders about the draft, Bayu further said.
The planned issuance of the regulation would comply with global trade rules issued by the World Trade Organization (WTO), he added.
Australia issued stricter packaging rules for cigarettes in 2012, requiring manufacturers to use uniform green packets with white labelling.
Indonesia, along with four other nations ' Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Ukraine ' has challenged the policy to the international commerce body, arguing that it is primarily inconsistent with global trade rules and intellectual property rights of brands.
In controlling the sales of alcoholic drinks, Indonesia chooses to monitor them by ensuring that purchases are made by individuals above 21 years of age with ID proof. Stores must also place the drinks in specially designated spaces. It also curbs importation through import licenses and delivery quantity.
This year, the Trade Ministry also lowered the quota for alcoholic drink imports by 7 percent to 4.6 million liters from last year.
The liquor industry in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, has long been subject to a variety of restrictions.
Local administrations have placed different rules, from totally prohibiting sales to placing high excise to control the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Bylaws in Tangerang, Indramayu and Bandung, West Java, for instance, have banned sales of alcoholic drinks in supermarkets, minimarkets, shops and jamu (herbal drink) kiosks.
In a recent move, the Industry Ministry plans to demand producers and importers of alcoholic drinks to verify their production capacities, output and sales. Manufacturers also need to secure a recommendation from the ministry when they want to expand.
The industry is also still limited to foreign direct investment (FDI), while production should meet a quota set by the government.
Indonesian Food and Beverages Association (Gapmmi) secretary-general Franky Sibarani requested the government to thoroughly consider its planned rule as it might badly affect the industry.
'For drinks with high alcohol content, branding really matters and plain packaging will stimulate a rise in illegal products both from imports and domestic producers,' he said.
The government should also assess the effect of the rule on excise collection and the growth of the domestic industry, Franky further said. Any discussion on the draft should engage related stakeholders, he added.