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JAKARTA, Indonesia – It seems beer drinkers and manufacturers aren’t the only ones who don’t agree with the restrictions on the sale of the alcoholic drink that will come into effect this month.
Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama isn’t enthusiastic either about the Ministry of Trade regulation prohibiting minimarkets and other small stores from selling “Class A” alcoholic beverages – those with less than 5% alcohol content such as beer – starting April 16, 2015.
“What’s wrong with beer? Has anyone died from drinking beer?” Ahok told reporters on Monday, April 6.
“Did you know? If you’re having trouble peeing, they ask you to drink beer,” he added.
The Jakarta administration has a 26.25% stake in PT Delta Djakarta, the manufacturer and distributor of beer brands such as Anker, Carlsberg, and San Miguel in Indonesia. In 2014, the company contributed some IDR50 billion ($3.8 million) to the city coffers, according to the Jakarta Investment Coordinating Board.
But Ahok’s comments were not concerned about just the local government’s potential loss of revenue.
People die from drinking tainted alcohol, the governor said, and ironically the ban could instead lead to more illegal sales and more Indonesians consuming cheap alcohol that could be contaminated. (READ: 9 Indonesians die after drinking tainted alcohol)
“Do you want to go back to the Al Capone era?” he said, referring to the infamous gangster who profited from bootleg alcohol during the prohibition era in the United States in the 1920s.
‘Protecting the youth’
Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel has stated that regulation, which was issued in January to the surprise of the alcohol industry, was aimed at protecting the youth, as minimarkets were freely selling alcohol to minors.
A ministerial regulation issued in 2014 states that alcoholic drinks can only be sold to consumers aged 21 or above after showing an ID.
“Despite enhanced surveillance, (minimarkets) still sell to minors. This is not good for the younger generation,” he said, according to Bisnis.com. “The government chooses to forbid the sale of these products to save the young generation’s future.”
Supermarkets and restaurants will still be allowed to sell beer, but beer manufacturers have said the regulation will cause substantial losses.
Shares in PT Multi Bintang Indonesia Tbk, the largest beer manufacturer in the country, have taken a beating since the regulation was announced.
“Our concerns with the current announced policies is that they will impact some of the smaller retail businesses and tourism,” Ivan Menezes, the CEO of Guinness producer Diageo, told Bloomberg in March. “There is also the risk of illicit alcohol growing again, and that is in nobody’s interest.” – Rappler.com