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Government to Simplify Liquor Import and Distribution

Fight Predicted Ahead as Government Department Seeks to Retain Lucrative Power Base.

(6/1/2009) Bisnis Indonesia reports that the Indonesian Department of Trade is in the process of revising regulations pertaining to the import of alcoholic beverages.

Currently under consideration is a simplification of the current rules that would unify the two different set of rules now governing imported and locally produced alcohol.

Under the new rules, all alcoholic drink purveyors will be required to hold operating and trade licenses (SIUP-MB). By eliminating the past differentiation between local and imported alcohol products officials aim to enhance their supervision of the marketplace. Currently, imported alcohol is supervised by the Director General of Foreign Trade while local alcohol business activities fall under the purview of the Director General for Domestic Trade.

Press reports suggest that there will be an intense struggle ahead between these two departments who will likely place less importance on simplifying procedures than on retaining the power they command under the current regulatory regime.

The importation of all alcoholic beverages is a de facto monopoly of one company, PT Sarinah.

The official quota for important alcohol in 2006 totaled 1.71 million liters, increasing to 1.98 million liters in 2008 and 2.61 million liters in 2009.