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NEWS

ISSUE 63

LOMBOK PEARL FESTIVAL!

PRESIDENT SBY EXPECTED TO OPEN FESTIVAL IN LOMBOK

RINJANI CONTINUES TO ERUPT

WHAT'S HOT!

LOMBOK DINES

SOUTHWEST GOTONG ROYONG… KEEP IT CLEAN!

LOCAL SCENE

MR FIXER

DENGUE ON THE RISE IN BALI

CRACKDOWN ON ILLEGAL LIQUOR

BIOMETRIC SCREENING AT BALI AIRPORT

POWER AT A PRICE

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LOMBOK PEARL FESTIVAL!

Welcome to The Lombok Guide – Lombok’s complete tourism paper and your guide to the best that the island has to offer. The Lombok Guide is published on Lombok every two weeks and contains valuable information for all visitors to our magical island.

Pearls, the fabled Queen of Gems, are big news at the moment, with Lombok and its neighbouring island of Sumbawa being major centres of pearl cultivation in the Indonesian archipelago.

The calm waters around these two islands provide perfect conditions for the cultivation of these prized gems, with virtually no pollution, stable currents and salinity levels producing high-quality pearls, sometimes referred to as Golden South Sea Pearls.

To celebrate Lombok’s importance as a centre of pearl cultivation and trade, the island will hold its first Lombok Sumbawa Pearl Festival 2010 from 6 – 8 May, 2010. The Festival, to be held at the Santosa Villas and Resort in central Senggigi, will have displays of pearls, jewellery and pearl shell handicrafts, a pearl auction, fashion show, traditional dance and music performances, and entertainment by top Indonesian artists.

Come along and join in the excitement and perhaps purchase a beautiful Lombok pearl to take home as a precious and lasting memory of our unique island!

To find out more, pick up a copy of The Lombok Guide from the locations listed on http://www.thelombokguide.com/deadline_publishing.html or visit www.thelombokguide.com and discover the magic of Lombok for yourself… like thousands of others, you’ll be enchanted!

 

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PRESIDENT SBY EXPECTED TO OPEN FESTIVAL IN LOMBOK

On 6 May 2010, Lombok will host two major tourism related events, to be held at the Santosa Villas and Resort in central Senggigi.

The Lombok Sumbawa Pearl Festival 2010 will take place from 6 – 8 May, with the official opening expected to be made by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). Other VIP’s attending the event include Tourism Minister (Menbudpar) Jero Wacik, the Governor of NTB, Zainul Majdi, and Director General of Marketing (Kemenbudpar), Sapta Nirwandar.

At the time of going to press, the President’s visit was still confirmed. However, if he is unable to attend, the Festival will be opened by Vice President Boediono.

Coinciding with the Festival, Lombok will also host the Indonesia MICE & Corporate Travel Mart (IMCTM) 2010. The annual travel mart is in its third year and is being held in Lombok for the first time in 2010.

Lombok Sumbawa Pearl Festival

This 3-day Festival will showcase the pearls produced in NTB – Lombok and Sumbawa and is part of the series of events leading up to Visit Lombok & Sumbawa 2012.

On 6 July, 2009, President SBY and his wife, Ani Yudhoyono, took part in the opening campaign for Visit Lombok & Sumbawa 2012 by symbolically “planting” pearls to signify the region’s importance as a centre of pearl trade.
In the opening ceremony on 6 May this year, the President and First Lady are expected to “harvest” the pearls to launch the inaugural Lombok Sumbawa Pearl Festival.

The opening ceremony will take place in the grand ballroom of The Santosa Villas and Resort and exhibitions will be held in the gardens in front of the ballroom.

The Festival is organised by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (Kemenbudpar) and the Department of Culture and Tourism (NTB) and is supported by the Indonesian Pearl Culture Association.

DG Marketing, Sapta Nirwandar, said that pearl cultivation in Indonesia is highly prospective and is spread over a number of islands such as Lombok, Sumbawa, Maluku, Ternate, and Papua. Indonesian pearls are exported to the United States, Japan, Geneva, Milan and Zurich.

There are currently at least 36 companies in the NTB region producing cultured pearls with production values of around Rp 80 billion per year. Each year NTB pearl production ranges between 650 and 800 kg, with most pearls being exported to Japan. Pearl production in the region is spread over eight districts with a total area of 6308 hectares and has a local labor force of 1360 employees.

Events during the Festival will include the crowning of a “Putri Mutiara (Pearl Princess)2010”, to act as an ambassador for the pearl industry in NTB; as well as a pearl exhibition by the pearl farmers from NTB, Maluku, Ternate, and Papua, and a pearl auction that is open to overseas buyers.

In addition, local designer Samuel Wattimena will enliven the event with a pearl jewelry display and fashion show.
Various handicrafts produced from pearl oyster shells will also be exhibited and there will be displays of traditional dance and music, as well as performances by Indonesian artists Nola, Widi, Chintia, and vocal group “Be3”.
Indonesia MICE & Corporate Travel Mart (IMCTM) 2010

Coinciding with the 2010 Pearl Festival, the IMCTM 2010 is expected to attract around 300 buyers and sellers specialising in the lucrative MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition) market in Indonesia.
The Mart will be held between 6 – 9 May in the grand ballroom at Santosa Villas and Resort. Around 80 percent of the participants are local corporate buyers, responsible for making decisions for MICE programmes for multinational companies. The balance of the attendees come from Australia, China, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.

The annual event is organised in collaboration with Kemenbudpar IMCTM 2010, the Department of Culture and Tourism NTB, the Association of the Indonesia Tours and Travel Agencies (ASITA), American Express Corporate Card Services, and tourism stakeholders.

Director General of Marketing, Sapta Nirwandar, said that the two major events organised by his party would cost around Rp 2 billion for the IMCTM and Rp1.5 billion for the activities of Lombok Sumbawa Pearl Festival. However, revenue generated by the events is expected to reach between Rp15 - 18 billion.

Lombok is seen as having very good potential in the MICE and corporate travel market, with tourism figures from this area at 619 370 people for 2009 and expected to reach 700 000 this year. The IMCTM is in its third year, with the inaugural event held in Bali in 2008, in Jogjakarta in 2009 and Lombok in 2010.

Hosting both these events is a huge coup for the Santosa Villas and Resort and is partly due to the organisational experience of recently appointed executive assistant manager, Franky Rumamby.

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RINJANI CONTINUES TO ERUPT

Nearly one year after the first eruption, Baru Jari, inside Mt Rinjani, continues to rumble, sometimes sending sprays of smoke and ash hundreds of metres into the air.

Mt Rinjani itself is an extinct volcano which, when it erupted centuries ago, lost most of its peak. The crater filled with water, creating the scenic Segara Anak Lake, and Mt Baru Jari, 2 363 metres above sea level, is the smaller active volcanic cone located alongside the lake inside the mountain’s caldera.

The small volcano started erupting on 2 May 2009 and thus far has created a lava flow into the lake measuring about 500 m long and 200 m wide. The volume created by each eruption can not be calculated but the lava flow has covered about 600,000 cubic meters of the lake to a depth of 100 metres. Lake Segara Anak is around 1.1 hectares in area, and has an average depth of 120m, with the west side dropping to around 230 m.

The Centre for Volcanology and Disaster Mitigation installed a seismograph on the shoulder of the mountain last year and another is located at the Vulcanology Centre in Sembalun. Authorities say the eruptions are occurring on average 10 times a day, with some eruptions reaching 1000 m from Baru Jari, or 800 m from the lip of the caldera.
Last year, the eruptions caused the mountain to be closed to trekking, as authorities judged the conditions to be unsafe, with frequent earth tremors and dangerous gasses being released by the rumbling smaller volcano. By October last year, most activity had settled down.

This year, trekking season was officially opened on the mountain on 1 April 2010 and, at present, visitors are able to climb the mountain and have the rare opportunity to witness a live volcano in action.

Routes on the mountain are partially restricted, with trekkers being permitted to descend to the lake; however, camping is not allowed on the lake shores. Climbers may descend to the lake but must then return to the top, where they can camp overnight at either Plawangan 2 (Sembalun Crater Rim Camp) at 2 639 metres, or Plawangan 1 (Senaru Crater Rim) at 2 641 metres.

Climbing to the summit is also permitted, but this is subject to the trek leader’s discretion. There is a possibility that this route will be closed, due to the danger of gasses and hot ash. Always check with your guide first, as they are regularly briefed on conditions on the mountain and know if the situation is dangerous.

Trekkers are requested to not touch or interfere with monitoring equipment currently collecting data on Rinjani at Sembalun Plawangan. Caution is advised in cases of strong winds which can blow heavy clouds of ash for several kilometres and large eruptions which can throw hot stones outside of the restricted zone.

Climbers must be accompanied by experienced guides who know the mountain and are briefed by the Department of Volcanology and the Rinjani Trek Management Board regularly.

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De Quake Restaurant and Lounge is one of our favourite hang-outs and is now enticing us with two more reasons to spend time there! Located in the Art Markets (Pasar Seni), on the beachfront between the Sheraton and Santosa Resorts, De Quake has a relaxed and stylish ambience, with comfy lounges downstairs and restaurant dining upstairs; each giving lovely views over Senggigi Beach and across the Lombok Strait to Bali.

TGIF! (Thank God it’s Friday!) Happy Hour happens at De Quake every Friday, with three hours of 2 for 1 drinks from 5 – 8pm. Buy any cocktail from the extensive cocktail list and get one free! Or buy one of your favourite spirits and get one free! Now you can sit back and enjoy the gorgeous sunset views, sipping the best Strawberry Margaritas in town… with the best deal in town! We also recommend choosing nibbles from the snack menu to go along with the drinks; the chicken wraps, Vietnamese spring rolls, Tandoori chicken skewers and pizzas are all very tasty and good value. What a great way to end the week!

THAI NIGHT is the other taste temptation from De Quake. Previously held only once a month, Thai Night is now on the menu every Saturday night. De Quake is already well known for its fantastic Thai meals, but now that Edi and his team are back from taking classes at a top Thai cookery school in Chiang Mai, the Thai menu has reached new levels of fabulous! Try out the delicious offerings every Saturday night, all prepared with authentic Thai ingredients, beautifully presented and at prices that are very affordable! No wonder we love De Quake! Ph: 693694, www.dequake.com

Good news for coffee, cake and bread lovers! Café Lombi has just opened in the Senggigi Square (where the English Tea Rooms used to be) and at last we have a café in Senggigi selling delicious western style cakes and coffees! The café serves around 10 different kinds of specialty coffees, made from imported coffee beans, including cappuccino, latte, macchiato, moraccino and more. There is also a good selection of Twining teas and Gold Selection export quality flavoured teas. To go with the coffee, try the homemade Meringues, Caramel Flans, Swiss Rolls and Biscuit Rolls baked fresh on the premises.

Western owned and managed, Café Lombi also bake their own breads, with three different styles currently available: White Loaf, Wholemeal and Butterzopf (a German specialty bread, made with plenty of butter and delicious for breakfast). Loaves are available sliced and come in 400gm or 800gm sizes, or larger for special orders. There are also freshly baked croissants and petit pain au chocolat (French style chocolate croissants) to tempt our taste buds.

For casual dining, the café also offers a small menu of western and Indonesian meals such as chicken, steaks, pastas and mixed salads, which combine perfectly with the freshly baked breads. Café Lombi manager, Martin, says, “We have kept our menu selection small so that what we do serve, we do well”.

The café accepts special orders and has a catering service available for parties and meetings, which includes staff hire, food and beverages, as required. Home delivery is also available around the Senggigi area (from Meninting to Mangsit). Bread and bakery items can be ordered in advance and delivered fresh to your home!

To top it all off, there is also a selection of delicious ice creams, including the specialty: Lombi’s Dream Meringue Ice Cream -- a meringue plate topped with ice cream and whipped cream and your choice of syrup! Café Lombi is offering this taste sensation as part of their opening promotion, free with the purchase of any of their great coffees. See the discount voucher on page 54. Ph: 0818 365790, www.cafelombi.com

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Local eateries can be a bit hit and miss, especially in the city, but Seafood Nikmat has proved to be a winner with both local and western clientele for several years now.

Seafood Nikmat is a wonderfully authentic local seafood restaurant in Mataram, which makes a great stop over for lunch or dinner after a day of shopping or doing business in the city. Don’t be put off by the plastic tables and chairs, or the busy location at a major intersection – the seafood here is top quality and great value for money!

Nikmat owner and chef, William, trained and worked in Perth, Western Australia, for several years before returning to Indonesia and opening his own restaurant in Lombok. His experience with western tastes and foods from other cultures is part of his success with Seafood Nikmat. While he can whip up a fiery local dish at the drop of a wok, his Singapore-style Crab tastes authentic and the Lobster Mornay is the real deal, perfectly attuned to western taste buds.

His passion for different flavours and styles from around the world means that William is always experimenting in the kitchen and, when we visited for dinner last week, he was busily cooking up a feast to wow us!
Three new additions to the already extensive menu were placed before us, two western style and one very local dish: Dory Steak, Scallops with Broccoliand Belut Penyet.

Penyet is an Indonesian cooking style, where tomatoes, chillies, shallots and prawn paste are blended together in a mortar and pestle to form a spicy sambal. Sambal can be just spicy or fiery hot, depending on how many chillies are used.Other ingredients are then lightly crushed into the sambal and the food is usually served in the cobek (mortar).

Belut is the Indonesian name for eels and are often seen for sale at local street-side stalls and Padang restaurants. The local varieties look like very long, fat worms but the ones on offer at Seafood Nikmat come from Java and are huge; resembling brown medium-length snakes wriggling in their tank, ready to be selected and cooked up on request.

For the Belut Penyet, the eels are filleted and deep fried before being crushed into the sambal and served at the table in the mortar, for an authentic touch. Not my cup of tea, but my Indonesian partner was delighted to eat the whole lot!

The eels can be prepared in many other ways, including Japanese style Unagi, or deep fried with a variety of different sauces, and cost only Rp 25 000 per serve.

Much more to my liking was the Dory Steak, served as a good-sized fillet of fresh John Dory, pan-fried and covered with a delicious tangy pepper sauce. Fish is never frozen at Seafood Nikmat and, in the case of the Dory, is flown from Java on ice and cooked fresh… and the texture and flavour show the difference!

\ The sauce complemented the sweet white flesh of the fish perfectly; creamy, with a hint of lime and just enough black pepper to be interesting. Accompanied by sweet carrots, broccoli and crispy fries, this is an excellent meal at Rp 40 000.

Lastly, the Scallops with Broccoli came as a platter ringed in steamed fresh broccoli with the scallops piled in the centre. Scallops are usually available year round at Seafood Nikmat and are either flown in from Java, or brought locally from fishermen in East Lombok, depending on the season.

The ones we had were local scallops from East Lombok and, braised in a Chinese style sauce enhanced with onion and garlic and with a buttery finish, were sweet and extremely full of flavour. Again, this dish is excellent value at Rp 75 000.

They say you can tell a good restaurant by the number of locals eating there and, if this is the case, Seafood Nikmat is a very good restaurant indeed as, on the night we dined, the tables were full of locals, as well as visiting Japanese guests and westerners!

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SOUTHWEST GOTONG ROYONG… KEEP IT CLEAN!

Pak Peter is the owner of Secret Island Resort a small resort on the beautiful island of Gili Gede on the southwest coast. Over the past couple of months, Peter has become seriously concerned about the amount of rubbish in the ocean. Of course, this happens every year when the rains come and all the rubbish that local people have thrown into dry river beds and drains washes down into the oceans.

To combat this problem, Peter has started a programme of “Gotong Royong” an Indonesian term that loosely translates as a “Community Clean Up” or “Busy Bee”. Below are his thoughts on how one person can make a difference to a problem that affects all of Indonesia.

Here is my concept of how we as a collective can raise the consciousness of local people, expats and tourists so that:

1. They don't randomly throw their trash on land or in the sea. Just today I caught a local lady actually dumping the trash from the gold shop kitchen into the ocean. Of course, I semi-politely scolded her and everyone who was listening, finishing with the words “Gotong Royong”.

I also called the owner, who you have met before. My outburst of righteous indignation, I think, will help just a little bit.

The problem is lack of awareness, because most local people really don’t pay much attention to plastic wrapping itself around their environment and literally suffocating many of the fish that feed them. How? Because plastic over a few years does break down into smaller pieces that fish will try to digest, to no avail. So not only does it look disgusting in the ocean, it is literally killing us. Thereby the way for us that do see the blemish and the environmental threat it poses, is to just keep talking, pointing and educating as many people as possible.

The words “Gotong Royong” need to become as well known as the word “Aloha” is to those who have travelled. Most Indonesian people already understand this excellent motto, but they feel it is not their responsibility to help clean up other peoples’ mess.
 
2. So how do we get lots of people to spend just a couple hours a week cleaning their beaches and nearby sea waters? Again, I think it is merely a process of showing and pushing people to get involved. I have personally spent about two hours a day, every other day over the last month, setting a Gotong Royong example, just by snorkelling and hand grabbing plastic submerged or floating in the ocean.

On an average day, I bag about 500 small bags and a few larger bags that I stuff full. When semi compressed this equals about a quarter cubic metre of rubbish but, when spread out, this much trash seriously taints about a half of a football field.

After spending some time with my staff out on the kayak snagging plastic out of the sea, one of my employees was dismayed to see more rubbish appearing.

“Aduh, datang lagi!” (“Oh no, it’s come again!”), he exclaimed.

So I then asked them how many times a day they mandi (bathe)? The answer is “usually three times”.
“Well then,” I say, “One time a day, Gotong Royong for your ocean, is not too much to ask!”

Because I have bad knees, I depend on our Secret Island Resort staff to rake and clean the beaches in our area. Three or four nimble workers can clean about a 100 meters of beach in just over an hour.

If a thousand people spent an hour a week during the rainy (trash) season, most of the problem would be solved. If plastic was made illegal the whole problem would be solved, but let’s not expect too much from government when people by themselves can take care!

The point is: we are actually managing to keep our area around Tanjung Gili Gede clean with just a few people paying attention and actually working at it.

In Tanjung village they are now actually taking care without Secret Island Resort paying them to do so. Thank you Pak Rathman, our local Kepala Dusun, for your excellent work!

And that, my friends of the earth, is success… bit by bit, piece by piece… Gotong Royong!

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LOCAL SCENE

RINA'S BIRTHDAY @ THE BEACH HOUSE!

Guests from all over Indonesia celebrated Rina’s birthday, organised by Adam at Manta Dive and held in the private villa at The Beach House, Gili T. Happy Birthday, Rina!

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(Tongue-in-cheek answers to your personal building problems)

QUESTION: Whilst shopping in a well known builder’s supermarket that has just opened up in Cakra, I came across a new scam I think your readers should be made aware of. As I approached my car with all my shopping, two young ladies began helping me load the carrier bags and boxes into the boot. Halfway through loading, one of the young ladies, who couldn’t have been a day over seventeen, began washing my windscreen. Soapy water was everywhere, including her skimpy tight T shirt which left nothing to the imagination! It was quite off putting, especially with all this hot weather we’ve been having lately. I could hardly keep my eyes off her wet T shirt! 

Her young companion, who was wearing a similar tight outfit, sat next to me in the passenger seat and began lap dancing right in front of me. I was so mesmerised that I failed to notice the “windscreen washer” getting into the back seat of the car. As my attention was distracted by the “lap dancer”, who was by now all over the steering wheel, the girl in the back leaned over the seat and stole my wallet. Have any of your readers had a similar experience?

MR FIXER: Some of us have been aware of this scam for some time. In fact, my friend George had his wallet stolen twice last week, on Wednesday and again on Friday. He tells me he is going back next week to have it stolen again. He also tells me there is a shop nearby selling cheap wallets. I have since found a shop in Mataram Mall selling wallets even cheaper and they are also much nicer!

QUESTION: My name is Yuna Long and I am a buxom brunette, 42-24-36, of distant Chinese decent. I have been living alone in my villa with pool and tropical valley views since my husband died over a year ago. It can get quite lonely here as my villa is somewhat isolated. Luckily, my husband had the foresight to install an alarm system before he died which, up till now, has been working perfectly.  

Just recently, however, the alarm system has been setting off for no apparent reason. A nice repair man and his driver came around to fix it and he certainly knew which of my buttons to press. He was very good looking but when he got his tools out, he looked quite puzzled. I asked, “Do you need a long screw driver?”  The driver must have thought I was talking to him, as he said he’d already had one with the lady across the road. 

Just then, an argument broke out between the driver and the handsome alarm man and they both left in a hurry. My alarm system is still faulty and I don’t know what to do. My bells are still ringing!

MR FIXER:  Alarm systems are not widely available in sunny Lombok.  In fact, I have not seen them on sale anywhere up until now. Your husband must have brought it from Europe or Australia, where they are almost a standard item in every home. Contrary to popular belief, you are more likely to be burgled in Europe than here in Lombok. That may be why you don’t see many of them for sale here.  If you are still concerned about security, why not get the handsome alarm man back and tell him to rip out the alarm system and move in with you. That should stop your bells from ringing!

Got a question for Mr Fixer? He’s always got a quirky answer your personal building problems! Just email your problem to “Mr Fixer” at kitadesign@hotmail.com

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DENGUE ON THE RISE IN BALI

Bali has received the dubious distinction of having the second highest rate of Dengue Fever infections nationwide in Indonesia.

In the first three months of 2010, Bali health authorities recorded 2,771 hospitalisations among those falling victim to dengue fever.  Of that total, 12 have died from the disease. Dengue Fever, called Demam Berdarah in Indonesia, is spread through the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

A disease that favours urban settings, the highest number of dengue cases have been recorded in Bali’s capital city of Denpasar with 1,046 reported cases, of which 6 have died.

The head of the Bali Health Department (Kadiskes), Dr Nyoman Sutedja, told the press that the number of dengue cases in Bali appears to be on the increase. By the end of 2009, a total of 4,500 dengue cases were reported; a number that will likely be surpassed in 2010.

The government has undertaken a programme of public education and neighbourhood fogging in order to help eliminate the nests of infectious mosquitoes.

Sutedja said he expects the incidence of dengue cases to reach its peak in May. He blamed the high number of cases in Denpasar on the rapid development and urbanisation of Bali’s capital city and poor understanding of the simple hygiene measures that will remove the threat of the disease from every neighbourhood.

Major hotels and tourism areas in Bali practice anti-dengue protocols including routine fogging of their premises. Tourists are advised to wear a DEET based insect repellent and to avoid areas with standing water where mosquitoes breed.

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CRACKDOWN ON ILLEGAL LIQUOR

The Jakarta Post and Radar Bali report that, during the first week of April 2010, thousands of bottles of imported alcohol lacking the required excise stickers or bearing counterfeit stickers were seized by Customs officials.
The value of the 2,827 bottles of liquor seized at two locations in Bali is estimated at Rp 500 million (US $53,000) and is equal to Rp 150 million (US $16,000) in lost tax revenues had the alcohol been sold illegally on the market.
The seized imported beverages were comprised of wines and hard liquor originating from US and European manufacturers.

Customs officials conducted raids on two warehouses located on Jalan Gatot Subroto in Denpasar and Jalan Danau Tempe in Sanur and arrested two individuals in connection with the raids. If convicted of breaking Customs regulations the two could each face five years in prison.

In the latest bust, on 16 April, police raided another warehouse containing illegal imported alcohol products. Police descended on the warehouse at 9.00pm where they seized 30 cases of imported liquor owned by I Made Widnyana.

360 bottles without the mandatory customs stamps were confiscated by police from the warehouse on Jalan Raya Padonan No 6, Desa Tububeneng, North Kuta. Both the cases of illegal alcohol and the owner have been detained by police while investigations continue.

Local tourism observers continue to warn that high taxes imposed on liquor and wine imports create ripe opportunities for black market activities.

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BIOMETRIC SCREENING AT BALI AIRPORT

The Jakarta Globe reports that visitors to Bali can now expect yet another delay in the notoriously long lines at customs and immigration at Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport, with the introduction of mandatory fingerprinting for tourist visitors.

The head of the Department of Immigration’s sub directorate for Information Systems, Rohadi Iman Santoso, has announced that the new requirement will be introduced at Bali’s airport, with subsequent implementation planned at all international gateways in Indonesia.

The fingerprinting, carried out with ink-less electronic fingerprint readers, will only be required for those using short-stay visas. Foreigners who have permanent or temporary stay permits and who have already been fingerprinted in the process of obtaining their residency in Indonesia are exempted from the new requirement. Children under the age of 14 and those travelling on diplomatic passports are also exempted from the requirement.

Rohadi also announced that tourist visitors would also be photographed using a system that completes the process in 2 minutes.

Rohadi acknowledged that the new requirement will add to the delay for those processing through Bali’s immigration and customs process. Only 10 of the 23 immigration counters at the airport will be initially equipped with the fingerprint scanner.

The system will be introduced nation-wide by July 2010, with scanners then in place at 21 airports, five seaports and at the border-crossing between Malaysia and Indonesia at Entikong. The trial introduction is now underway, fingerprinting visitors arriving in Bali, Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Solo.

The Immigration Department has apparently seen little need to socialise the new fingerprinting system with Surya Dharma, a spokesman for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and Ngurah Wijaya, the head of the Bali Tourism Board, with both claiming no knowledge of the new system.

Biometric screening procedures are already in effect in a number of countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and the United States.

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POWER AT A PRICE

Bisnis Bali reports that the Bali Chamber of Commerce (KADIN) is rejecting planned increases in the cost of electricity soon to be imposed across Indonesia.

KADIN claims the increased cost of electricity will prove a real burden to the lower economic classes and local industry, warning that the competitiveness of local manufacturers will also be adversely affected by the hike in power costs.

“We reject the plan to increase electrical costs for households and industry, except for houses with power supplies exceeding 10,000 watts,” said the Chairman of KADIN-Bali, Gede Sumarjaya Linggih on 18 April, 2010.

According to Linggih, there is no need for the government to increase electrical costs for the lower economic classes and industry, saying, “Households with more than 10,000 watts are clearly upper class households. These people do not need government subsidies. Please, go ahead and increase electrical charges for this rich class.”

Linggih told the press that plans to increase electrical charges has caused widespread concern among Bali’s poor and the manufacturing sector.

The proposed price hike comes at a time when Bali and the rest of Indonesia is seeking ways to deal with the added pressure of CAFTA measures creating free trade between ASEAN countries and China. Even in the absence of the increase in electrical charges, many Balinese businesses fear they will be unable to remain competitive with products produced in China.

In order to meet this increased level of competition Linggih argues the government should consider more and not less subsidies for energy costs. Saying that present subsidies cost the government Rp 16 trillion (US $1.7 billion), he argues that subsidised electricity would increase production and manufacturing, adding substantially to the nation’s tax coffers.

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