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Import restrictions in Indonesia face backlash over extortion concerns

Jakarta Globe - March 25, 2024

Alfida Rizky Febrianna & Agnes Valentina Christa, Jakarta – Indonesia's latest import restriction has raised concerns about its potential to deter tourism and has sparked fears of extortion from customs officials at airports.

The Indonesian Shopping Center Management Association (APPBI) has raised objections to regulations imposing limits on the quantity of imported goods brought by passengers from abroad, including personal shopper (jastip) services. According to APPBI, these regulations do not significantly benefit the domestic retail industry and may instead have adverse effects on the tourism sector.

The Trade Ministry introduced a regulation on imported goods last year, which officially took effect on March, 10. Under this regulation, passengers are allowed a maximum of 2 pairs of footwear and 2 bags. Textile products are capped at 5 pieces per passenger, while each passenger is permitted to carry electronics totaling $1,500, limited to 5 units. Additionally, mobile phones, headsets, and tablet computers are restricted to 2 units per passenger per year.

"In my opinion, we need to delve deeper into this issue. While the restriction on imported goods carried by aircraft passengers aims to safeguard Indonesia's retail industry, it inadvertently discourages tourists," remarked Alphonzus Widjaja, Chairman of APPBI, on Sunday.

Alphonzus believes that while the limitation on passenger goods is a step in the right direction, it fails to address other significant channels through which jastip goods enter the country.

"I believe there are numerous other entry points that require attention from the government. Passenger baggage constitutes only a small portion of jastip goods entering the country. There are larger loopholes that need to be addressed," he explained.

According to Alphonzus, the new government regulation may inconvenience tourists visiting Indonesia, potentially deterring both domestic and international travelers.

"We must ensure that the aim of reducing or restricting jastip does not adversely affect other sectors. Rather than exacerbating issues, these restrictions should aim to solve import-related problems comprehensively. Thus, a more thorough examination of this matter is necessary," he concluded.

Meanwhile, the community has expressed concerns about the restrictions on foreign goods, particularly regarding fears of extortion by airport officials.

In response to these concerns, Roy Nicholas Mandey, Chairman of the Indonesian Retailers Association (Aprindo), encourages businesses and the public to report instances of extortion or unreasonable taxation on imported goods.

"If individuals demand undisclosed payments or impose excessive fees that violate regulations, consumers and individuals are urged to report them," he said recently.

The Directorate General of Customs and Excise of the Finance Ministry fully supports the revision of import restrictions currently being conducted by the Ministry of Trade in collaboration with relevant ministries/agencies.

"We appreciate input from the public and business stakeholders to enhance customs duties, both in terms of service and supervision for the national economic interests," said Director of Communication Nirwala Dwi Heryanto in an official statement received on March 24.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/business/import-restrictions-in-indonesia-face-backlash-over-extortion-concern