Many people are dumbstruck by a central government scheme to charge people coming into Indonesia for bringing small personal items with them. Indeed the plan seems so ludicrous that you would certainly be forgiven for not taking it seriously at all and laughing out loud.
But as bizarre and iniquitous as it sounds, the government in Jakarta appears set on enacting its plan at the start of next year, now just weeks away. Under this most preposterous of taxation plots, people arriving in Bali with items including cameras, mobile phones, timepieces (watches) and even sunglasses will be slapped with import duties. For Bali, a tiny island dependent on holidaying foreigners, it must rank among the most absurd proposals in the world.
Imposing stellar rates of tax on products and services in Bali is not new, we know only too well. Imbibers of various imported beverages can expect to hand over around 300 percent of products’ price to the government. “Foreigner price” is an unofficial levy on almost all goods and services island-wide, and increasingly it is seeping into the tax books in Jakarta.
This large-scale rip-off cannot continue. If the new personal-items tax goes ahead, it will cause lasting damage to the country and enraged foreigners will rightly decide to go elsewhere.