The Indonesian government is considering new labeling regulations for manufacturers of alcoholic beverages in a bid to lower the number of consumers of alcohol in the country.
According to a report in The Jakarta Post, liquor manufacturers may be required to either use plain packaging or place graphic warnings on packaging.
Bayu Krisnamurthi, the deputy trade minister, said that the regulations were under preparation, though no timeframe has been given, and would apply to liquor with alcohol content of 20% or above.
“We want people to be warned about the dangers of consuming alcoholic drinks. We see a lot of problems caused by the habit, including pertaining to health and crimes, among other things,” he said, adding that the government still needed to talk to stakeholders about the draft.
Krisnamurthi added that any potential regulation would comply with global trade rules issued by the World Trade Organisation.
However, the announcement was met by disappointment from the industry.
Franky Sibarani, secretary-general of the Indonesian Food and Beverages Association, urged the government to thoroughly consider its plans.
“For drinks with a high alcohol content, branding really matters and plain packaging will stimulate a rise in illegal products both from imports and domestic producers,” he said.
He added that the government needed to also assess the effect the rule might have on excise collection and the growth of the domestic industry, and that any discussion on the draft had to engage stakeholders.
Indonesia currently regulates alcoholic beverages at the point of sale, choosing to monitor them by ensuring that purchases are made by individuals above 21 years of age with proof of ID.
Indonesia has steadily been lowering the availability of alcoholic beverages. This year, it lowered the quota for alcoholic drink imports by 7% to 4.6m litres from last year.
In addition, the country has reinforced a complex tax and licensing structure to curb the sale of alcoholic beverages. In some areas, local administrations have totally prohibited sales; in others, high excise duty is charged.
The government has also asked producers of alcoholic drinks to verify their production capacities, output and sales, as well as secure a recommendation from the industry ministry when they want to expand.