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Indonesian gov ‘opposes full alcohol ban’

The Indonesian government will not back a blanket ban on alcohol in the country, despite fears that Islamic parties could force through legislation, a government minister said yesterday.

Sofyan Djalil, Indoensia’s co-ordination minister for economic affairs, said he backed the country’s ban on small shops selling some types of alcohol

Sofyan Djalil, the country’s co-ordination minister for economic affairs, said a bill backed by Islamic parties that would criminalise alcohol would not make it through parliament to become law.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Mr Djalil said, “If we want to attract tourists to Indonesia, the availability of alcoholic beverages is a must.”

The majority muslim country introduced a ban on sales of most types of alcohol from small convenience shops two weeks ago, to the distress of members of the tourism and drinks industries.

Ivan Menezes, CEO of drinks giant Diageo, said at the time, “Our concerns with the current announced policies is that they will impact some of the smaller retail businesses and tourism.”

“There is also the risk of illicit alcohol growing again, and that is in nobody’s interest,” he said.

Protecting young people from alcohol was cited as the reason for this restriction, which Mr Djalil said was an important step for the government to take, but a blanket ban would be too far.

The legislation being proposed by Islamic parties would exempt some locations to protect tourism, including five-star hotels and the resort island of Bali.

Beer sales have increased by 54% in Indonesia over the past decade with brands such as the Bintang beer, brewed by PT Multi Bintang Indonesia, which is majority owned by Heineken, particularly popular.

However despite increasing sales, a survey by market researcher Nielsen found that in 2014 only 2.2% of Indonesians over the age of 20 had consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months.

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