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Indonesia to raise minimum cigarette prices 15%-20% JAKARTA - The Indonesian government is raising the minimum ceiling on retail cigarette prices by 15% to 20% starting July 1 to boost revenue and discourage smoking, the Minister of Finance said Friday.

Higher retail cigarette prices will increase the amount of money the cash-strapped government derives from cigarette taxes, which range from 8% to 48% according to World Health Organization data.

"We think increasing cigarette prices is the best thing the government can do to meet the excise revenue target," Minister of Finance Jusuf Anwar told reporters. Indonesia's government has raised its excise revenue target for 2005 to IDR31.4 trillion from an initial IDR28.9 trillion, Anwar said, without elaborating.

Anwar said the pending price increase was also a response to pressure from international health authorities to take measures to discourage cigarette smoking. He didn't elaborate. A pack of cigarettes in Indonesia currently costs around IDR7,500.

The pending price hike is bad news for Indonesia's cigarette manufacturers, including Philip Morris International Inc., which last week increased to 97% its stake in PT Hanjaya Mandal Sampoerna (HMSP.JK), Indonesia's third largest cigarette maker by sales.

Higher retail cigarette prices threaten to dent the domestic market. According to the WHO, 59% of Indonesian men are smokers and demand for cigarettes appears to be increasing judging by an on-year rise in cigarette output in 2004 by Sampoerna and rival PT Gudang Garam (GGRM.JK) of 7.7 billion and 1.44 billion sticks, respectively.

However, the move to raise cigarette prices will likely please WHO antismoking activists, who have been lobbying Indonesia's government to raise taxes on cigarettes as a deterrent to a new generation of smokers.

The smoking habits of the young and the poor are directly related to cigarette affordability and consumption decreases when prices rise, Dr. Khalil Rahman, regional adviser for the WHO's Tobacco-Free Initiative in the organization's Southeast Asia regional office in New Delhi, said in March.



Posted in Economy @ 27 May 2005 13:04 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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