Dozens of containers filled with wine and spirits are being held up by customs at the country’s largest port, causing restaurants and hotels to worry they will be unable to meet the Christmas and New Year holiday demand.
Yanti Sukamdani, the chairwoman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association, said that shortages of wine and spirits had been occurring since early December.
“Several travel agencies have even canceled tour group visits because we can’t ensure our visitors a steady supply of wine,” she said. “And I do understand that, because wine and spirits are the main symbol of a party.”
Yanti, a part-owner of Central Jakarta’s five-star Sahid Jaya Hotel, said the shortages were not only occurring in Jakarta but also in Bali, Medan, Surabaya and other major cities in the country. In some cases, foreign guests were cancelling their trips when they found out that alcohol was scarce, she said.
Yanti said she did not know what was to blame for the wine and spirits shortages.
According to data from the Ministry of Trade, as of Dec. 7, state-owned PT Sarinah, the country’s sole licensed alcoholic beverage importer, was still 16 percent short of meeting its total quota for this year.
Diah Maulida, the Trade Ministry’s director general for foreign trade, said dozens of containers holding alcoholic beverages were being held at Jakarta’s Tanjung Priok port because Sarinah had not paid the import duty on the goods.
This was corroborated by the director general of customs and excise at the Finance Ministry, Anwar Suprijadi. “They have not paid the import duties,” he told the Jakarta Globe, without giving any reasons why.
Sarinah’s president director, Jimmy M Rifai Gani, denied the company had not paid the duties.
“There has been some delay in supplies, but it is not because we have not paid the duties,” he said.
“There were some administrative problems with our paperwork. We are currently waiting for the revised [import] papers to be reissued soon, and I hope by next week all the suspended goods can be released,” Jimmy said.
However, Tutum Rahanta, the managing director of the Association of Indonesian Retailers (Aprindo), suspected corruption was behind the sudden seasonal holdup. “This is a classic problem. At the end of the year, there is often a scarcity of wine and spirits,” he said. “What happens? There has to be something wrong; there could be some game going on.”