Sunday, July 8, 2007

Home sweet home

We are glad to be home. I don't want to hear about corruption, graffiti, the state of our roads and the medical system. After Indonesia this place is Utopia.

I said I would elaborate on our first-hand experience with the Indonesian Customs Service; or rather, a couple of its officers.

The main purpose of going to Bali was to visit the school at Catur where we set up computers almost three years ago and take a couple of secondhand Macs and printers and a cheapo digital camera to try and give staff and students a rounded experience.

We had an iMac in its original packaging and another two smaller boxes of gear including an older laptop, printers and ink refill kits etc.

As we went through customs at Denpasar airport, a customs officer grabbed us, having seen the large iMac carton and demanded to know what it was all about. I had labelled each carton with the destination (the school) and the contents. I explained that it was second-hand gear for a poor school in the Bangli district. He then told us to follow him with the gear to a special room. Very Corbyesque! We were told to sit at a desk where he questioned us some more then said that we must pay duty and made me write down the values of each item. I did a reasonably honest estimation of what I could sell all the gear for in W.A. and he calculated the duty at 17% of total estimated value. That worked out to be A$21 and he then informed us that it was not enough. I reinforced the point that the gear was to help a poor school. He then called his superior who told us that old computers are deemed to be new computers for tax purposes, and that we must now negotiate a duty payment. The ‘negotiations’ came down to $50 Australian and we felt that we would lose our gear if we didn’t pay, so we handed over 50 good ones. I asked for a receipt, but they said that receipts cannot be issued for negotiated taxes. We were told later that we had done well to get out for $50.

On our way back to Aus, we lost half a bottle of vodka because 'only full bottles were allowed in baggage'. When we landed in Perth I asked a senior Customs Officer about that rule. He laughed and said we had been had again.

If we venture to Bali again, I plan to drink about half a bottle of whisky, do number ones in it and when going through customs ask if it is OK to take it in our luggage. With any luck it should be confiscated.

No comments: