Wed, 05 Oct 1994

Duty free shop

I have lived in this country for upwards of 13 years, during which time I have been puzzled by the great "Duty Free Anomaly." By this I mean that the duty free facility is granted at various Duty Free Shops in Jakarta (and no doubt in other major cities) to those who least need it. Expats who are earning maybe US$20,000 a month get the privilege of buying cheap wines and spirits, whereas the lower paid ($2000-3000 per month) are denied it.

Since the Duty Free Shops are, I imagine, owned by the government, they are presumably supposed to earn foreign currency. Therefore, if the duty free privilege were extended to permanent (lower paid) expats like myself, who cannot afford to buy wines and spirits at supermarket prices and so do not do so (which means that the government is missing out on the high taxes levied on alcohol, a potentially fruitful source of foreign currency) the government would thereby reap a worthwhile extra harvest of dollars.