Bali Authorities Investigate Money Changers Operating Illegally In Kuta

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Authorities in Bali have launched an investigation to crack down on money changers who are operating without the correct paperwork. An operation launched by the Public Civil Service (Satpol PP) and Bank of Indonesia found that eight money-changing outlets in central Kuta were operating without permits and other supporting documents. 

The investigation was launched on Thursday 16th June and has been reported as a resounding success. The focus of the operation was to help ensure that money-changing outlets, largely used by inbound international tourists, were operating above board. The timing of the inspections was triggered by an increase in reports from international travelers and rumors throughout the surrounding communities that many of the money changers in Kuta were operating outside of the law.

In light of the pandemic, it is thought that many money-changing outlets had let paperwork slide, however, the operation may have uncovered outlets that had been operating without permits since before 2020. The last investigation of this kind was in 2019. Saptol PP and Bank of Indonesia are meant to conduct audits of money-changing outlets twice a year. 

Officials from Satpol PP and the Bank Of Indonesia investigated premises in Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak. They said that the target areas were Jalan Pantai Kuta, and Jalan Wana Segara. Along Jalan Pantai Kuta officials identified three money-changing outlets that were violating terms of operation. Three were found to be blocking public access by placing signs on the sidewalks. On Jalan Wana Segara a total of five outlets were found to have invalid paperwork for operating as a financial institution. 

Issues regarding public access to money-changing outlets fall under the remit of the public civil service authorities. Issues regarding paperwork and exchange rates on offer fall with the Bank of Indonesia. The authorities confiscated the exchange rate boards from the outlets they found to be operating without sufficient permits. The outlets will be given their boards back once they can prove that their operation is compliant. 

In total, eight money changers in the area were found to be violating the terms of operation as outlined by the Bank of Indonesia. This included not having a permit, not having business licenses, and operating in branches that were officially registered as closed. The Head of BI Payment System, Licensing and Supervision Unit Region III Bali-Nusa Tenggara, Ni Putu Sulastri has said that the owners and managers of these outlets have been summoned by the Bank of Indonesia for questioning. 

In a press statement the Head of Badung Regency municipal police, I Gusti Agung Ketut Suryanegara said ‘There should not be complaints caused by the naughty actions of related individuals who can tarnish Bali’s tourism in the midst of recovery efforts after the Covid-19 pandemic’. He confirmed that there will be more operations like this run across tourism areas in Bali.

Neither Sulastri nor Suryanegara gave any suggestion that the money-changing outlets were doing overt harm or exploiting tourists with their operations. None of the money-changing outlets have been closed down, and the facility managers and owners have been instructed to get their paperwork in order. 

Tourists heading to Bali are reminded that currency exchange is available at most banks. Banks in Bali are generally open from 8 am until 3 pm. Almost all tourist cafes, shops, and accommodation in Bali accept card payments. ATMs in Bali are generally reliable and cash is useful for taxis, shopping at markets, and tipping.

As Bali reopens to mass tourism ahead of the first high season since 2019, authorities across the island are working to ensure that business operations are all above board. Paperwork that was easily overlooked, simply not needed, or too expensive to manage during a period of such a massive economic downturn must now be put back into place. 

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