I’m a sucker for creative metrics, such as measuring a creature’s ferocity by how quickly it can skeletonize a cow. One of my favorites is the way in which a nation’s development is assessed by how rapidly it’s being colonized by Western franchises. Take Indonesia, which is revealed here to be “opening a new convenience store every five to six hours.”
Yet the world’s biggest convenience-store chain, beloved nachos purveyor 7-11, has not found Indonesia to be the most welcoming of environments. Though its stores are now legion in Jakarta and elsewhere, 7-11 is on the defensive thanks to Indonesia’s penchant for genteel corruption:
After evaluating and issuing restrictions on minimarkets across the capital, the Jakarta administration has now set 7-Eleven convenience stores in its sights.
Following the issuance of a gubernatorial instruction specifically targeting 7-Elevens, Adi Ariantara, the head of the city’s economic bureau of the city administration, said the government would review the stores based on both the new instruction and a 2006 gubernatorial regulation on restaurants…
“We held an evaluation meeting on Sevel stores. We found that out of 57 in Jakarta, only 15 had proper licenses,” he said.
It was not clear why 7-Eleven was the only convenience store chain targeted by the new gubernatorial instruction. Adi said his office would review 7-Elevens based on a 2002 regional regulation that stipulated that modern markets up to 200 square meters in size should be located at least 500 meters from traditional markets. If they are between 200 and 1,000 square meters, they should be at least a kilometer away from such markets. Supermarkets and hypermarts must be at least two and a half kilometers from any traditional market.
According to data from the regional administration in 2011, Jakarta was home to 1,868 minimarkets. Of those, 1,443 of them did not have all the required permits, and some had none at all.
Okay, so let’s read between the lines here, shall we? Six years after a law is written, 7-11 becomes the only company to be threatened with store shutdowns—right as competition for customers is becoming most intense due to rising economic activity. Why do I get the feeling that 7-11 can only fix this problem through the liberal distribution of bribes?