House to Mull Bill Banning Alcoholic Beverages in Indonesia

By webadmin on 06:22 pm Dec 20, 2012
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Markus Junianto Sihaloho

[Updated on Dec. 21, 2012]

Indonesia would introduce stiff
penalties for the consumption of all alcoholic beverages under a
controversial bill drafted by the country’s oldest Islamic party, which
is seeking an effective ban on the sale, production and consumption of
alcohol in the Muslim-majority nation.

Hard alcohol is already
heavily regulated in Indonesia, where hefty taxes contribute to some of
the highest prices in the region and local bylaws limit the open sale of
liquor in some regions.

The proposed legislation, drafted by
the United Development Party (PPP), would go further, effectively
banning all alcohol, including domestically produced beer like Bintang,
in a push that would make Indonesia a dry country.

Those caught
consuming alcohol could face up to two years in prison. Distributors
would face up to five years in prison while producers could face a
maximum of 10 years.

“This will be a total ban, and not just an
attempt to regulate production, distribution and consumption of
alcohol,” Arwani Thomafi, the PPP secretary at the House of
Representatives, said on Thursday.

The bill is among 70 priority bills scheduled for deliberation next year.

The
party introduced the bill to bring the nation “in line with religious
guidelines” as well as address the negative impact of excessive alcohol
consumption on people’s health, Arwani said.

He claimed that alcohol consumption had spurred a rise in crime and offered no significant contribution to state revenue.

Tourist
areas and “certain ethnicities” might be spared the ban, Arwani said.
He did not explain which tourist areas or ethnic groups would be allowed
to drink alcohol under the ban.

Arwani brushed off any
potential controversy the bill might generate during its deliberation as
a normal part of the legislative process.

“I think it’s part of the usual dynamics in bill deliberations,” he said.

Arwani
also confirmed that the bill had been included in next year’s list of
priority legislation at the expense of a much-criticized bill to amend
the law on the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

“The
alcohol bill has been included in the list of 2013 priority legislation
to replace the KPK law revision. There are 19 bills that are still being
drafted. A total of 58 new bills have been included in the list of
priority legislation,” he said.

He insisted that alcohol was banned in every religion because it could endanger people’s lives.

He
cited as an example of the negative impact of alcohol the recent
incident in which a young model, Novi Amalia, hit seven people,
including two police officers, while driving under the influence.

Indonesia already applies an almost 150 percent excise tax on alcoholic beverages.

The
government generated around Rp 1.5 trillion ($155 million) in import
duties from alcoholic beverages this year from Tanjung Priok Port alone.

The finance ministry is targeting Rp 75.4 trillion in excise
revenue in the 2012 state budget revision, with Rp 72 trillion expected
from tobacco and Rp 3.2 trillion from alcoholic beverages.