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A Call for a Halt to New Strip Malls and Hotels in Bali

State Planning Minister Joins Bali Legislators in Demanding a Freeze on Large Tourism Investments.

(4/13/2009) Indonesia's Minister State Minister for National Development Planning and National Development Planning Board Chairman, Paskah Suzetta, has warned Bali's leaders to stop granting permits for strip malls in Bali. Quoted in Radar Bali, Suzetta told a public hearing on development planning in Bali: "I ask that Bali's governor no longer grant permits for 'ruko' (strip malls) and for big hotels in Bali. Bali is already crowded with rukos that have popped up everywhere."

The planning minister said that if people still want to create tourism accommodation they should not undertake big projects. He went on to call for a "people's based tourism" using small homes and buildings made from traditional materials. Suzetta add: "This involves the environment. I am sad to see Bali build rukos and large hotels. Eventually the character of Bali will be lost. While modifications may be needed, don't make hotels out of concrete."

In a separate article in Radar Bali, Denpasar's town council endorsed Suzetta's comments, even if to do so would decrease local tax revenues. The city counselors claimed that Bali's governor should not be reluctant to call a halt to issuing building permits for hotels and ruko, insisting that any loss in tax revenues could be addressed in closer control of the existing tax asset base.

A member of Commission A of the Denpasar Council, I Ketut Agung Nurjaya, complained that each year the open land area of Denpasar decreases in the face on non-stop physical development. He also warned that the uncontrolled construction of new hotels will eventually lead to unhealthy competition in the accommodation sector.

Nurjaya also criticized the uncontrolled building of rukos or strip malls, claiming too many were being built resulting in a number of half-completed empty ruko projects. Calling for a halt to new permits for rukos, Nurjaya said that the green open areas within Denpasar should be held at the 35% level.

Meanwhile, zoning officials in Denpasar have expressed little interest in curbing the islandís growth. The chief of the Zoning and Residential Service (DTRP), I Kadek Kusuma Diputra, told Radar Bali that his department have no current plans to discuss and consider the recommendation of National Planning Board Chairman. Explained Diputra: "Any decision to stop issuing building permits (IMB) for rukos and hotels depends on the polices established by the local government and elected representative. It's not my place to answer these questions."

When pressed to provide a count on the total number of rukos in Bali, Diputra revealed there are two sets of data on this subject. One for the number built before the building permit division was established and another for the period after its establishment. Pressed further to reveal those numbers, he told the press: "Excuse me. Ask me again tomorrow. It's time to go home."