Fighting Unrecorded Alcohol : A Policy Priority for Bandung, West Java

Hizkia Respatiadi • Sugianto Tandra
Policy analysis Center for Indonesian Policy Studies • May 2018 Indonesia

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In April 2018 a hundred Indonesians died from drinking unrecorded alcohol, most of them in the Greater Bandung area in West Java province. This confirmed findings of the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) that the death rate from unrecorded alcohol in Greater Bandung area during the last 10 years was almost five times higher than in the rest of the country. From 2008 through 10 April 2018, 16.3 deaths from unrecorded alcohol per 1 million people were reported in the Greater Bandung area, compared to 3.4 deaths per 1 million people nationwide. The government controls the distribution of alcohol with heavy import and excise duties. All vendors need licenses and cannot sell to customers under the age of 21. Ministry of Trade Regulation 06/2015 also prohibits the sale of alcoholic drinks in local minimarkets and convenience stores. Over 150 local government regulations restrict the distribution and consumption of alcohol. The Bandung City Regional Regulation 11/2010 (BCRR 11/2010) prohibits traders from operating near places of worship, schools and hospitals. Unfortunately, government regulations do not effectively protect Indonesian consumers and must be seen as a factor causing black markets. A CIPS survey was conducted among alcohol consumers in Bandung in early 2018. It showed that 45% obtained their alcohol from unlicensed kiosks. Underage drinking also remains a problem as 21% of the respondents were between 14 and 20 years old. Indonesia’s consumption of alcohol does not pose a public policy concern because according to estimates of the World Health Organization (WHO) it remains low at 0.6 liter per head per year. The problem lies, instead, with unrecorded alcohol, which accounts for 80% of the national alcohol consumption (WHO, 2014). The CIPS survey found that 41% of the alcohol consumers in Bandung drank unrecorded alcohol of the “oplosan” type, which is a dangerous mix of potentially lethal ingredients. 54% bought their oplosan in kiosks. Stricter law enforcement is necessary to fight unrecorded alcohol, to control the licenses of liquor vendors, and to prevent underage drinking. However, law enforcement alone will not succeed and black markets for unrecorded alcohol will prevail, if the government continues to restrict accessibility and affordability of recorded alcohol. CIPS, therefore, recommends lower excise and import duties to make recorded alcohol more affordable. The national government should revoke the current ban on alcohol sales in minimarkets and local governments, including Bandung, should also review their local restrictions. Improving accessibility and affordability of recorded alcohol will not just replace one type of alcohol with another. Recorded alcohol only poses a risk when consumed in large quantities, which is not common in Indonesia. Meanwhile, unrecorded alcohol, even when consumed in small quantities, carries a tremendous risk caused by its potentially lethal ingredients. A shift to recorded alcohol saves lives.




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