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New Energy Policy Puts Bali Night Life in Limbo

Bali Night Spots Headed for a Showdown with Jakarta on Newly Mandated 1 a.m. Closing Time?

(7/18/2005) In order to overcome a nation-wide energy crisis, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has introduced a number of sweeping measures via Presidential Instruction (INPRES No. 10/2005), signed on July 10, 2005.

Those instructions require and empower members of the Cabinet to undertake dramatic reforms in their respective areas of control that will drastically reduce the Country's reliance on fossil fuels.

The measures introduced and under consideration are wide-spread and comprehensive, including: air conditioners in government offices to be set at 25 degrees Celsius; uniforms worn by civil servants will be more casual and cooler; limitations on the use of lifts in public buildings; restrictions on the use of state-owned vehicles; and the elimination broadcasts between 1 a.m. and sunrise by local TV stations.

Bali's Dilemma

Local business circles in Bali are awaiting formal instructions from the island's Governor on specific measures to be introduced in support of the newly issued Presidential instruction. According to the Indonesian-language Bali Post, the necessary coordination meeting to discuss what energy-saving measures would be introduced in Bali had yet to take place by Wednesday, July 13, 2005.

Night Spots to Close at 1:00 a.m.?

While waiting for specific energy saving measures to be announced, Governor Dewa Beratha did hint at what might be in store when he was quoted in the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia saying he hoped Bali's night spot operators would follow the energy-saving example set by Indonesia's TV stations by shutting down operations every night at 1:00 a.m..

In his comments, made after attending meetings at the Provincial Parliament on Thursday, July 14, 2005, the Governor suggested that night spots staying open after 1:00 a.m. would receive two formal warnings before experiencing the final enforcement step of having their operating licenses revoked.

Despite the presence in Bali of a sizeable late-night entertainment industry, which includes a number of bars and entertainment venues operating until sunrise, the Chief of Tourism for the Province Gede Nurjaya told Bisnis Bali that Bali's tourism industry would not suffer unduly from the introduction of a 1:00 a.m. closing time. According to Nurjaya, visitors will understand such measure if operators of night spots explain that the early closing time is part of a national energy-saving program. Moreover, according to Nurjaya, tourists will understand mandatory closing times as similar measures are generally already in place in their home countries.

The tourism Chief did not discount that the closing time measures could be reviewed and re-evaluated if was demonstrated that the effects on the local economy were too severe.

Business as Usual?

During the first weekend following the issuance of the Presidential Instructions on energy conservation there appeared to be little effect on Bali's night scene with night clubs, bars and late-night restaurants continuing to operate as usual.