Widodo: Safeguard the Strength of Indonesia's Household Consumption
Indonesian President Joko Widodo urged his cabinet members to guard - or even better: to improve - household consumption in Indonesia as this would have an immediate impact on Indonesia's overall macroeconomic growth. Over the past five years, the nation's household consumption accounted for about 56 percent of Indonesia's gross domestic product (GDP).
Household consumption is the key engine of the Indonesian economy, supported by the huge population (numbering around 258 million people), and therefore people's purchasing power needs to be guarded in order to see economic growth accelerating further. In this context Widodo also emphasized the importance to teach the population about consumer protection. There have been many cases in which Indonesian consumers were disadvantaged or even cases in which their lives were endangered.
An interesting example is the fake vaccines case. In June 2016 Indonesia was shocked by a new scandal as, apparently, fake vaccines had been given to children - primarily babies under the age of one - across various hospitals and medical facilities on Java for the past 13 years. Police arrested more than a dozen people who were linked to the production and distribution of fake counterfeit vaccines. Although the fake vaccines were harmless (and therefore there have not been any reports of fatal incidents related to the vaccines) it means various Indonesian children on Java were not protected against diseases such as hepatitis B, measles, polio and tuberculosis.
Other examples in which the Indonesian consumer is being mistreated include credit card or e-commerce fraud or the selling of expired food products. The latter is also possible because there is not enough monitoring being conducted by authorities. This makes sense because it would be very difficult to monitor or test the quality of all the street food that is sold across the country. Still, occasionally there are reports that police arrest street vendors because these vendors say they sell beef, while it is actually mouse meat. Mouse meat is much cheaper than beef and therefore these vendors can generate some additional earnings. However, it implies consumers are being scammed, while it can also have a negative impact on consumers' health.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo says the position of Indonesian consumers can be strengthened if consumers are taught about their rights (and risks). It is interesting to mention that out of one million Indonesian consumers only an average of 4.1 make an official complaint being disappointed or mistreated after the purchase of goods or services. In South Korea this figure is 64 (out of one million consumers). This shows that there is either a low awareness of mistreatment in Indonesia, or, there exists the lack of confidence among Indonesian consumers that a complaint will do any good. This last reason would also be a problem because many complaints should eventually lead to an improvement in the quality of products and services that are being sold to consumers.