Thursday, November 20, 2008

Imported goods and Electricity in Jakarta.

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Hello again fellow Jakartan's!! We are sure that we are not the only ones in Indonesia wondering when the current alcohol-crisis will finish? Rumors have it that there are 60 containers of imported alcohol sitting at Jakarta's port. Apparently customs have imposed an excise tax of 300% per bottle – at which importers can't and will not pay. Trying to buy quality imported spirits is like a quest suitable for Indiana Jones – and when one does have the opportunity to buy some they are forced to pay 4 or 5 times the normal retail value. Wines can be found more easily but again you are paying in most cases 5+ times their normal retail price that you would pay at the origin location. We assume all this means very healthy financial times for the beer companies. In what is supposed to be a free market economy it seems some very monopolistic practices are the root cause here. Further to this, we have also heard that there is already some enforcement of restricting the import of foreign made goods if similar goods are manufactured in Indonesia. This extends to a large range of food items including cheese. (and brown sugar and heaps of other imported foods!!!!!!!!!!!, fruit has nearly doubled in price, I spend nearly $50/week on fruit alone) It is probable that this has been enforced with view to protecting local industries in the wake of the current financial crisis around the world – however such protectionist and isolationist measures could have a counter productive reaction from other countries who may consider retaliatory measures against Indonesian exports. For a country that boasts of a free & open market economy concept and that embraces Western investment and tourism, it surprising that these issues are occurring – and with very little media attention that we have seen thus far. Lets all hope that good sense prevails sooner rather than later. Otherwise a lot of people will be sadly missing having the brandy added to their Xmas puddings this year! Anyway over the next week there is plenty happening around town to enjoy – so celebrate over the next week with your friends around town this week & enjoy what this wonderful (but almost alcohol dry) city has to offer! Anyway bye for now and enjoy the rest of your week!

The cost of living is becoming enormous for us here.
I think our electricity is being stolen, goodness nows how long that will take to get sorted!!!!
We have really cut back our consumption, yet the bill keeps climbing. Last month the bill was 4.9 million Rupiah...just under AU$640.(US$410.)

This is for ONE MONTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is another thing that the scrooge company that GJ works for doesn't contribute to, we pay all cost of living, tax and majority of education. GJ needs to get into oil, gas , banking or mining, much better packages!


Anonymous said...

oh gosh jen jen , you are game !!
ps. sounds like yr electricity is being stolen. max should be approx. 2 mill.
good luck.

Anonymous said...

Your comment on getting your husband/breadwinner/supporter to get into a harmful extractives industry, just to make more money (it's not all about money) left a bad taste in my mouth.

Jen Jen in Jakarta, Indonesia said...

I suppose it is all about view point.

I will agree with you on banking....a harmful extractive industry, as the current global crisis shows. But money is what makes the world go round…..

But on mining, oil and gas, it depends where you are from and the time frame in which you form your opinions.

Most of my friends and neighbours are with big multinational (harmful extractive industry….) companies, all of whom pride themselves on conservation and the environment.

I come from a developed country where the environment is supported.

This is different to what the previous generations experienced and to what some countries experience.

I can imagine if you, anon, were from a different background to me, you could view mining in a different light, eg the disgusting Sidoarjo mud flow and oceans of palm oil, from an Indonesian perspective.

Mining is a fact of life for the world and until fossil fuels run out, or a financially viable, sustainable energy source is found, it will continue. I want people who are educated, responsible and informed, supplying power to the world in which I live. I think my husband would be that type of person, as are my friends.

This is a very controversial issue, one that is not going to be solved on my personal blog from an off the cuff comment.

I would suggest a spoon full of sugar and a jump off your high horse.

Anonymous said...

"It left a bad taste in my mouth" is a high horse? Hardly! And "money makes the world go 'round" is your justification? "until a sustainable energy source is found" (ummm...hydro,solar don't exist? I though they did) Just providing a different perspective (I am an expat too)as you noted. There are those of us that feel that the vast majority of the world would hardly think your husband's company is a "scrooge" company - as it presumably pays your husband approx.100x what the admin staff make. If you can't afford fruit, how do Indonesians do it?

Anonymous said...

Ha! It's horrifying isn't it?!!! We were not happy with our electricity ("listrik") bills of rp1.5-rp3m until we met an Aussie couple a few weeks ago .... they live in a 4br apartment here and their bill is (wait for this ....) equivalent to about au$1000 a month!! None of us could even comprehend such a huge amount, let alone understand or suggest why it was so high - they are not paying pool pump costs, outside lights etc. Still shaking my head over that one but I know my hubby will NEVER complain about ours again LOL

Sharon said...

Well JenJen, on the topic of viable, sustainable etc etc ... I think you touched a raw nerve with anon (who should probably be brave enough to identify him/herself if they are not afraid of their own comments, by the way). I won't address that but will address what got me going .....

Dear Anonymous
It is a sad fact that there are first world countries and there are Third world countries and Indonesia is a third world country in which the standard of living for each socio economic class is vastly different.

Part of the reason they employ "bule" or foreigners in third world countries, as most intelligent people know and understand, is because this country desperately needs their knowledge and expertise due to the low level of education of their own people. If they don't employ outside, their position will not improve in the near future. It is also a sad fact of life that for many years there has been, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, the "haves" and the "have nots" that are more noticeable in third world counties, but present in every country, event he most developed and economically fortunate.

Before continuing, I would be interested to know if you, "Anon", are so vehement in your views that you pay your staff (if you DO NOT have Indonesian house staff I would be very, very surprised) above the acceptable salary meaning they can comfortably afford to buy imported food - that is, after reading the comment saying "if you can't afford to buy fruit, how do Indonesians do it?".

As those of us who live here know, quality assurance is almost non existent in this country and is not a problem for the vast majority of locals who know no better (just as those of us from "first world countries" were unaware of it until recent years). This is something that comes with education, knowledge, improvement of living standards - which all come about as true democracy develops and governments become more answerable to their people - and thus, improved quality standards, through improved economy. It is NOT up to those foreigners living here to improve this, and whilst we may not like it, it is not our responsibility to change it, but it IS up to the (somewhat corrupt) Indonesian government to educate and provide these opportunities to their people.

So Anon, DO YOU have domestic staff, a driver, jaga, etc? And if you DO, do you have the means and compunction to pay them a high enough salary that they too can afford to buy fruit and vegetables (either imported or locally grown) in the quantity that is recommended by western dietary guidelines for a healthy intake??? Don't know about the country you are from, but in Australia the minimum requirement is 5 serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit per day - MINIMUM for adults. Or do you just pay your Indonesian staff the bare minimum so you can have their services, whilst not giving much thought to their health, wellbeing and financial status and long term prospects? You don't have to answer that because it is a confronting question and regardless of your position you are likely to answer anonymously that you pay them double at least. Just something for you to churn over in your own head as you go to sleep after reading this :-)

I for one pay my Indonesian staff a food allowance on top of their salary, AND I give them a portion of our fruit and vegetables each week (which are a mixture of both imported and local organic produce), in addition to buying them staples such as flour, eggs, sugar, coffee, tea, oil, vegetables etc.

As foreigners we agree to come here under certain conditions and with expectations, and yes, those include improved financial opportunities for our futures and those of our families, and that is part of the deal. If that wasn't the case, then there would only probably be handful of us here!

I have a great idea, Anon..... if you are so against the position of foreigners why don't you (a) identify yourself and (b) start a charity organisation that will assist locals in having better quality of food and living standards, and invite those of us who visit JenJens' page to join and come along and meet you???

To be honest, firstly I think you completely missed the humour and message in jens' post mentioning having her partner work in one of the more financially well compensated industries that employ foreigners, and secondly I think you are being a little sanctimonious in your stance here.

Many of us who bemoan the sacrifices we make to stay here are also offering our services free of charge with charitable organisations, sponsorships of those less fortunate and donations to organisations that help those Indonesians less financially well off than ourselves. As the current embargoes on imported foodstuffs and alcohol primarily affect people in this group or wealthy Indonesians, it is NOT that big of an ask to expect the government to NOT impose these added (illegal) costs to items that are already making additional revenue for their country and government agencies. Let's face it, the government agencies here who take the additional costs for these things are not exactly above board in their dealings with making cash on the side through accepting the "brown paper bags" that come their way.

I am sure you and your partner are NOT here to purely support those locals you may or may not have working for you by paying them above and beyond the award rates of pay, nor are you here to happily pay increased costs for food and basic living expenses in order to help prop up corrupt officials, but you too are probably here to improve your financial future and the long term financial benefits of your family - yes?

All this and the Indonesian government have had the audacity to ask the Australian government for a $3 billion dollar loan to help their flagging economy. Perhaps if their government was a bit more transparent they would be able to improve their position and that of their people instead of lining the pockets of the privileged few who have "official" positions and contacts, negating the need to ask their neighbours for financial assistance?!!!!!

Sorry, but people like you who do NOT look at the whole picture and single out the comments of one or two individuals just erk me like you have no idea!!

And YES, I DO also think you were on your soapbox and I hope all the Listerine in Jakarta can't get the bad taste out of your mouth - perhaps it will give you the reality check you so obviously need and bring you back to earth!!!

I would welcome and be only too happy to hear your comments please. With loving thoughts and warm regards,

Warm fuzzies to you :-) Tinkerbelle

Jakarta Rocks said...

I have proudly worked in the mining industry my entire career (as has my husband). I was the manager responsible for the environment at my last mine in Aus. We have never done anything at work that I would embarressed for my 3 children to know of.

Solar or wind power are not viable options for large scale power supply (not to mention the inefficiencies). Hydro works is possible, but not all countries can afford the infrastructure or have the right natural resources for this to be large scale also.

What do you think your car is made from? How do you power your car? Where does your electricity come from? Are you yet another whinger who likes to complain about mining, yet does nothing to decrease it's need.

Wake up - while mining is occuring, I would much prefer to be influencing from the inside rather than moaning from the outside.

PS. The mudflow was mostly caused by the company not taking the advise of the experts. If drilling was done as it was planned to, ie. the expensive way, then it may not have occured (I cannot gaurantee, but it's above 99%).

Get a life.....

oigal said...

Hey Cool Jen,

You have your every on Greenie Troll and a mung bean to boot!

It never ceases to amaze me how many mung beans who still live in that "oh noble savage happy skipping down the beach picking the feasting on the fruits mother nature." frame of mind.

Besides the cruel truth of infant mortality, short, brutal lives, the population of the vast majority of countries has moved well past sustainable skipping down the beach phase(Of course, be in no doubt, there are any number of green zealots who would rejoice in the mass deaths of humanity as a good thing).

Guess what.. that extraction industry is the one thing that allows the earth to support the number of humans it does.

As for the money thing, whilst there is a long way to go! Never before in history has the human race been so well off as a group.

If you use Indonesia for example, there is ample resources for all, the fact that little children are starving has nothing to with the process just the swine who misdirect the fruits.

As for the wage comparisions..stunning in its silliness and lack of socio-economic rational.

Sharon said...

Hmmm, I notice that anon has not returned to make any additional ridiculous comments. Funny about that, huh? Damn, I was REALLY looking forward to a response too .....