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Jakarta Post

Bali opposes beer ban

  • Ni Komang Erviani

    The Jakarta Post

Kuta, Bali   /   Sat, April 11, 2015   /  10:00 am

On popular Kuta Beach in Bali, street vendor Supeno took no time to share his opinion about the government'€™s planned ban on selling beer in shops and convenience stores.

Supeno could not hide his concern about the policy.

'€œIf we are not allowed to sell beer, we will suffer. My income will significantly decrease. Most tourists choose beer more than any other beverage,'€ said the native of Lumajang, East Java, who has been selling beverages on the beach since 1992.

He said most tourists on the beach preferred to drink beer. '€œCurrently, I average Rp 200,000 [US$15.47] in profit every day. If I can'€™t sell beer, I will likely only get Rp 75,000. That'€™s quite a lot [of a decrease],'€ the father of three said.

Like many of his peers on Kuta Beach, Supeno is against the beer ban.

According to a Trade Ministry regulation issued in January, beverages with an alcohol content of 1 to 5 percent can only be sold in supermarkets and hypermarkets. Thus, minimarkets, food stalls, street vendors and beachside vendors will no longer be allowed to sell beer or other beverages with an alcohol content of between 1 and 5 percent. They are already banned from selling stronger drinks.

The new policy, which takes effect April 16, has met with opposition in Bali.

The chairman of Alcoholic Beverages Type-A Distributors Association Bali, Frendy Karmana, said that Bali should be exempt from the policy.

'€œWe hope that Bali can be exempted from the policy as Bali is a tourist island. Many people depend on beer [sales] for a livelihood. Tourists and beer cannot be separated,'€ Frendy said.

Frendy explained that currently there were about 10,000 beer retailers across the island, mostly in tourist areas in southern Bali. The retailers fall under eight distributor companies.

The ban, he said, had raised questions about President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo'€™s promise to boost small and medium enterprises. '€œThis policy will only give profits to big companies,'€ he said.

The association, he said, had sent a letter to the trade minister in March, demanding that Bali be exempt from the policy. The minister, however, has yet to respond.

Earlier in March, during a province administration monthly open house meeting, Bali Deputy Governor I Ketut Sudikerta pledged to study the matter and coordinate with the trade minister.

Bali Industrial and Trade Agency head Ni Wayan Kusumawathi said on Friday that the agency had conveyed Bali'€™s aspiration to the Trade Ministry. Responding to the aspiration, she said, Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel would come to Bali on Saturday and offer an opportunity for people to talk the matter over.

'€œWe will have talks with the minister on Saturday morning. Everyone will be allowed to convey their aspiration,'€ she said.

When informed that tourists would no longer be able to buy beer from street vendors across Bali, Australian tourist Wayne Adams said the regulation would be bad for Bali.

'€œThe ban on alcohol on the beach will be bad for business and affect a lot of locals'€™ income. It will also greatly affect Australians coming to Bali,'€ Adams said, adding that he respected the policy nonetheless.

The new arrangement, made in consideration of the '€œprotection of morals and culture in society'€ for tightened supervision of alcoholic drink sales, faced protests not only from retailers but also from antidrug activists.

The Association of Indonesian Retailers (Aprindo) has also voiced regret, saying that the authority to allow or prohibit sales of beverages with low alcohol content should be left to regional administrations. Adjustments could be put in place according to the characteristics of the regions.

Minimarkets in general account for 1 or 2 percent of total beer sales, but in certain tourist areas they can account for between 10 and 20 percent of distribution, according to the business group.

A scarce supply of beer might also stimulate the circulation of bootleg liquor, which would be counterproductive to the goal of the ban, the group suggested.

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