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Jakarta inches toward new 'prohibition era'

The Jakarta Post, December 08, 2005

Tantri Yuliandini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Do not expect to find many alcoholic drinks in supermarkets during this year's Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations in Jakarta, as the sale of drinks with more than 5 percent alcohol has been banned by the city administration.

The City Industry and Trade Agency has decided to issue a circular recently, which forbids the sale of "type B" (e.g. wine, champagne) and "type C" (e.g. spirits) alcoholic drinks in supermarkets and hypermarkets throughout Jakarta. The agency dug up and invoked a 1997 Presidential Decree on the monitoring and control of alcoholic drinks, as well as the now-defunct Ministry of Industry and Trade's Decree No. 359/MPP/Kep/10/1997 on monitoring and control of production, importation, distribution and sale of alcoholic drinks.

Jakarta's new prohibition coincides with a similar prohibition in neighboring Tangerang municipality, which outlaws the sale and distribution of all alcoholic drinks, including beer.

Both regulations stipulate that selling alcoholic drinks is banned except in duty-free stores.

"We haven't been selling alcoholic beverages, other than beer, since the beginning of the fasting month, but since receiving the circular we have taken the products off the shelves altogether," Carrefour Indonesia's corporate affairs director Irawan D. Kadarman said.

And indeed, the special wine section located at the back of Carrefour's Lebak Bulus store in South Jakarta -- the retail main office -- is instead stocked with cigarettes, beer and sparkling fruit juices.

Type A beverages are those with between 1 percent and 5 percent alcohol, while type B contains between 5 percent and 20 percent and type C between 20 percent and 55 percent alcohol.

Beer usually contains between 3 percent and 6 percent. Most wines contain between 9 percent and 20 percent alcohol, while distilled spirits or "hard liquor" usually have more than 20 percent alcohol content.

The Ranch Market in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta, has also taken alcoholic beverages off the shelves, and replaced its wine-cellar style racks with sparkling non-alcoholic beverages and fruit juices.

"We haven't been selling liquor since before Ramadhan, and we have used the racks to display other products," a staffer told The Jakarta Post.

Despite the new prohibition era, however, the Post discovered on Wednesday that several supermarkets such as Hero and Sogo inside the Pondok Indah Mall were still well-stocked with foreign wines and liquors.

Neither of those store's representatives were reached for comment.