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Govt Set to Ban Liquor Sales in Mini Markets

 Indonesians looking to buy a cold beer from one of the the country’s ubiquitous minimarts come the end of the month will soon find themselves out of luck.

Trade Minister Rahmat Gobel has reportedly signed a regulation that will ban small, modern retail chains such as Indomaret, Alfamart, Circle K and 7-11, from selling alcoholic beverages, including beers and pre-mixed drinks with less than 5 percent alcohol.

The regulation, which local media have reported was signed by the minister on Jan. 16, affects mini markets only. Supermarkets and hypermarkets, such as Carrefour, will still be able to sell booze.

Tutum Rahanta, deputy chairman of the Indonesian Retail Business Association, said he was disappointed with the regulation as it might harm certain sectors of the economy, such as tourism.

“Retail businessmen rely on the sale of alcoholic beverages to accommodate foreign tourists’ needs,” Tutum was quoted as saying by Tribunnews.com.

He said local governments should be given the power to regulate the sale of liquor in their area.

Districts like Bogor and Tangerang already prohibit the sale of alcohol in mini markets, but the new regulation threatens a blanket ban across Indonesia.

Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama said the sale of alcohol in mini markets in Jakarta was already very tight.

Only liquor under 5 percent could be sold and only in stores located far from houses of worship and schools, he told Liputan6.com. He added buyers must be over the age of 18.

Widodo, the director general of standardization and consumer protection at the Trade Ministry, said on Thursday the regulation still needed to be signed off.

“The regulation has to be legitimized through the Ministry of Law and Human Rights,” he told Okezone.com. “It will take approximately 14 days, but there’s a possibility it’ll be done before Jan. 30.”

Solihin, corporate affairs director of Sumber Alfaria Trijaya, which owns the Alfamart and Alfamidi chains, said his company was not surprised with the minister’s regulation, as some districts already prohibited sale.

He said Sumber Alfaria Trijaya was ready for the new law and it would not affect profit, as alcohol sales were not big income spinners.

“We will obey the rules,” Solihin said to Kompas on Thursday.

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