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Upgrading to Metropolitan Precincts will Translate into More Manpower and Equipment for Denpasar's Main Police Stations.
Four Police precincts or Polseks in Denpasar will soon be upgraded into metropolitan police centers. The four precincts in Denpasar due for the upgrade are West Denpasar (Denpasar Barat), East Denpasar (Denpasar Timur), South Denpasar (Denpasar Selatan) and Kuta. The Chief Officer at each of these station houses will no longer be held by an officer with the rank of Ajun Komisaris Polisi (equivalent to a Captain), but be under the control of a higher ranking Ajun Komisaris Besar Polisi - AKBP (equivalent to a Lieutenant Colonel). As reported by Kompas.com, the Chief of the Denpasar Police, Komisaris Besar I Gede Alit Widiana, told the press the changes were in accordance with the recent validation and evaluation made by national police headquarters. "The status change to create precinct metropolitan stations has not only affected several precincts in Bali, but has also taken place at police posts across Indonesia," Widiana explained. Widiana also said he hoped the upgraded status for these police precincts would improve service to the public and enhance the law enforcement capabilities of the officers serving in those locations. The number of personnel serving in these offices will be increased to a minimum of 300, so there will be no basis for anyone feeling there's a lack of manpower or similar such complaints," Widiana said. The higher mobility of a larger deployment in each of these precinct stations is also hoped to reduce the possibility of social unrest in any surrounding area. Widiana shared with the press his dream of turning the Kuta Precinct into a "Zero Crime" model neighborhood. While admitting many express skepticism as to whether or not Kuta cam be made crime free, Widiana pledged his every energy in a joint effort with the local community to make that dream into a reality. Widiana continued: "Bali is like a sugar mountain to a troop of ants. There are those who come her with skills and others who come with no skill at all. Those without skills end up doing many things to meet their basic requirements, including criminal acts." The police have set an initial target of giving a quick response to every report they receive as a means of enhancing the public trust for the police. From 2010 to 2015 they will create stronger working relationships with the public by involving the public in every aspect of police work. "The public must not always become the "object" but must also become the "subject" or "operator" in every effort to create security in their communities," insisted Widiana.
Where There's Smoke There's Panic
9 Passengers Injured When Smoking Engine Causes Panic on a Batavia Air Flight at Bali's Airport.
9 passengers among 148 on board a Boeing 737-400 operated by Batavia Air sustained injuries requiring hospital treatment when panic ensued after large amounts of smoke spewed from one of the engines on start-up prior to push back at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport on Thursday, December 3, 2009. The passengers on BTV701 fell victim to a bad morning following a dreadful night on what was to have been a direct flight from the East Java capital of Surabaya to Kupang on the island of Timor on Wednesday. However, the emergency "belly landing" of a Merpati Fokker 100 at Kupang on Wednesday, closed that airport for a number of hours causing the Batavia Air flight to divert to land in Bali. According to the national news agency Antara, the passengers were disembarked in Bali and left to largely fend for themselves for an entire night at the airport. Snack boxes were reportedly supplied the passengers, but requests for meals and accommodation were rejected by Batavia Air staff who purportedly told the passengers that such compensation was only available when the delay was the fault of the airline. When confirmation that the Kupang runway was re-open the Batavia Air passengers were loaded for an 11:00 am departure for their original destination of Kupang. On board with seat belts buckled Captain Cholil Arief started engine No.1 without incident but when he engaged engine No. 2 accumulated fuels billowed into clouds of smoke that caused passengers to panic, open an emergency exit and begin leaping from the plane. In the resulting shuffle and panic, 9 passengers suffered injuring which included broken legs that were treated at a local hospital. Batavia Air insists that the smoke emitted from the engine was within normal operating parameters and certainly not the basis for evacuating the aircraft, an act that was never ordered by the cabin crew or the cockpit. Separately, the Director General of Civil Aviation, Gerry Bhakti Singayuda, criticized the crew for failing to calm the passengers and maintain order on their aircraft. The emergency slide on the Batavia Air B737-400 had to be refitted before the aircraft could return to service.
UNWTO Designates Bali as a Green Tourism Destination
UNWTO to Help Bali Secure Financial Support for Green Tourism Projects.
Jakarta Globe reports that Bali has been designated by the United Nation's World Travel Organization (UNWTO) for a pilot project to develop eco-friendly tourism. Geoffrey Lipmann, UNWTO Assistant Secretary General, in a meeting with Bali's governor, Made Mangku Pastika, said that the island's natural environment was under threat despite long-standing cultural traditions that strive to maintain balance between mankind, nature and the spiritual realm. Lipmann said, "that wisdom is alive and well and is still deeply held to this day." Lipmann said that Bali's endemic environmental wisdom would need to cultivated and encouraged to deal with the challenges of climate change. The UNWTO plans to help Bali assess its current situation, seek solutions and them help the island secure financial support from various sources, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Among the possible projects identified by Lipmann as part of the Bali project were alternative energy sources and natural conservation. Touching on the need for creating a green economy for Bali, Lipmann said, "the concept encompasses reduction of carbon dioxide production, environmentally friendly investment, the use of alternative energy, preservation of biodiversity and other issues." Governor Pastika welcomed the UNWTO interest and commitment to help Bali preserve its natural environment and unique culture.
Bryan Gabriel to Bali Intercontinental Sale & Marketing Role
Veteran Hotelier Oversees Regional IHG Sales and Marketing Activities from Bali Base.
InterContinental Bali Resort has appointed Bryan Gabriel as Director of Sales & Marketing and Area Director of Sales & Marketing IHG Indonesia. In his Bali-based position, Gabriel will provide sales and Marketing direction to several IHG properties in the region. Gabriel brings a wealth of hospitality experience to the Resort having spent the last 15 years working at a number of leading properties throughout Asia and Australia. In 2000, The Establishment, a luxurious, 5-star boutique hotel, opened in the heart of Sydney where he spent three years as General Manager, winning the hotel won a number of prestigious awards, including the National Australian Hotel Association's award for Best Boutique Hotel Accommodation in Australia. In 2006, Bryan Gabriel moved to the role as Director of Sales & Marketing at InterContinental Jakarta MidPlaza. During this time he raised the property's brand awareness, helping the property secure "Indonesia Leading Hotel" category at the World Travel Awards 2006. Later, the Australian hotelier joined the opening team at the Crowne Plaza, Changi Airport, Singapore as well as an airport hotel in the same city. Following this, he became Area Director of Sales & Marketing – Singapore, providing leadership and support for the four properties under the IHG banner. Commenting on his latest assignment with IHG, Gabriel said: "It is great to be back in Indonesia and I am thrilled at the opportunity to be part of the iconic InterContinental Bali Resort and work within such a dynamic tourism market. I look forward eagerly to the unique opportunities presented by the island-style resort and the robust and vibrant Indonesian business environment."
And a Light Onto Your Path
Bali Traffic Police Order Motorcycles Lights to be "On" Whenever they Take to the Roads.
In an effort to reduce the carnage on Bali's roadways, the Bali Traffic Police are requiring that motorcycles travel at all times with their headlights on. The stipulation to drive with headlight "on" is based on a recently passed traffic law and provides for Rp. 100,000 (US$10) fines for those failing to engage their light during daytime hours and Rp. 250,000 (US$25) for those guilty of the same offense after dark. Those unable to pay the fine will face jail time. The Head of Bali's traffic police, Bambang Sugeng, said that technicians from Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha are prepared to make alterations on their brand of motorcycles that will engage headlights automatically every time the engine of a motorcycles is started. In order to guarantee the success of this element of the Bali Police's "Safety riding" program the police are also socializing the new regulation by placing banners in strategic locations around Bali and a declared their intention to issue warnings rather than tickets during their first three months of the program. Police officials also warn that motorcyclists that fail to display a license plate will be fined Rp. 500,000 (US$50) and those taking to the roadways without bringing their driver's license can expect a fine of Rp. 1 million (US$100).
A Candlelit Christmas for Bali
PLN Announces that Bali's Rotating Blackout will Continue at least Through January 15, 2009.
Despite earlier promises that the irritations accompanying electrical blackouts would end on December 6, 2010, the National Electrical Board (PLN) has announced that repairs on the Gilimanuk generating station will take longer than expected and consumers should expect blackouts to continue at least until January 15, 2010. PLN officials blame the delay on their failure to install a rented back-up generator and the delay in delivery of needed spare parts which must be imported form abroad. The Bali spokesman for PLN , Agung Mastika, has expressed his organization's apologies for the continuing inconvenience to the public and the likelihood that Christmas and New Year's festivities will be affected. Mastika explained: “whether we like it or not, rotating blackouts will continue over the Christmas and New Year period. However, if each of PLN's customers will try to save only 100 watts, I think the locations and the length of the blackouts can be reduced." At least through January 15, 2010, electricity customers in Bali can expect that the current twice weekly blackouts for most Bali residents will continue.
Tracking Good Health in Bali
BIMC Hospital Installs GPS Systems in their Fleet of Bali Ambulances.
BIMC Hospital has recently equipped their Advanced Life Support Ambulances with state-of-the-art Global Positioning System (GPS) to improve response times and streamline their emergency dispatch operations. The GPS Systems, supplied by Bali Navigator and Bali Discovery Consulting Division, have seen BIMC Hospital become the first medical provider in Bali to equipped their ambulances with GPS system in order to provide rapid and certain responses to emergency medical calls. When an emergency call is made to BIMC Hospital, the medical professionals on duty 365 days a year at BIMC Hospital know that time is of the essence in their efforts to prolong life. In this context, knowing the caller's exact location is of utmost importance. With the new GPS installed in their ambulances BIMC aims to get to an emergency in the fastest possible time; not wasting valuable time minutes looking for a hotel, house or villa. BIMC Hospital has loaded participating BIMC members' addresses into a central database together with a photo of the front of the house/villa as an additional identification icon. There are already 200 members participating in the program. In addition, the GPSs are also loaded with coordinates of hotels, restaurants and other tourist attractions spots which may be useful in responding to an emergency. Related Links [BIMC Hospital] [Bali Navigators – Rental & Sales]
Keeping Bali Safe for Democracy
556 Police Officers Deployed to Safeguard Bali Democracy Forum December 10-11, 2009.
556 Police will be deployed to guarantee the safety of the Bali Democracy Forum (BDF) to be held at the Hotel Grand Hyatt Nusa Dua on December 10 and 11, 2009. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to open the conference. The assistant commander of the Presidential Guard, Air Marshall Imarullah, held coordination meetings on December 4, 2009 with Bali Chief of Police General Sutisna to review the tough security measures in place for BDF. The Bali meeting will bring together Foreign Ministers from countries across the Asia-Pacific to discuss cooperation in building democratic political institution in the region. President Yudhoyono will address delegations from 53 participating countries, 24 ministers and 14 observers. From December 9 – 12, 2009, the Bali police will launch what has been dubbed "Operation Pan Puri Agung III-2009" calling on resources from all operation precincts of the Bali Police. Gde Sugianyar, the spokesman for the Bali police, said: "The Bali police will deploy 556 officers to safeguard the BDF to ensure its smooth running success." On Saturday, December 5, 2009, the Bali police conducted drill exercises in preparation for the event in the Renon area of Bali's capital of Denpasar.
Indonesian Public Holidays 2010
Official List of Indonesian and Bali Public Holidays for 2010
Here’s the list of Public Holidays in Indonesia (and Bali) for 2010: • Friday, January 01, 2010 – New Years Day • Sunday, February 14, 2010 – Chinese New Year (Imlek 2516) • Friday, February 26, 2010 – Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad • Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - Hari Raya Nyepi Tahun Baru 1932 (Bali’s Official day of Silence – Hindu New Years Day) • Friday, April 2, 2010 – Good Friday • Sunday, April 4, 2010 – Easter Sunday • Thursday, May 13, 2010 – The Ascension of Jesus Christ in Heaven • Friday, May 28, 1020 – Hari Raya Waisak 2554 • Saturday, July 10, 2010 - Isra Mi'raj Prophet Mohammad SAW, Celebrating the Ascension of The Prophet Muhammad • Tuesday, August 17, 2010 – Indonesian Independence Day • Thursdays, September 9, 2010 – Shared Holiday by Government Decree • Friday & Saturday, September 10-11, 2010 - Hari Raya Idul Fitri 1431 H • Monday, September 13, 2010 – Shared Holiday by Government Decree • Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - Idul Adha 1430H • Tuesday, December 7, 2010 – Islamic New Year 1432 H • Friday, December 24, 2010 – Shared Holiday by Government Decree • Saturday, December 25, 2010 – Christmas Day
We Get Mail
Balidiscovery.com has a Full Mail Box with Comments on Rabies, Motorcycles, Immigration Lines and a Lenient Sentence for a Property Swindler.
Dog Census Our articles on plans for Bali to undertake an official dog census [See: Bali to Undertake Dog Census] and the continuing rabies crisis [See: Exterminating Bali's Dogs Won't Stop Spread of Rabies ] brought the following letters. - Maria Chardet who lives on Jimbaran Beach wrote: ”What about the dogs in the area of Jimbaran, Uluwatu Dua, Celagi Basur? There are many dogs with no owner and there are more and more and a lot of female dogs with puppies that walk all around our villa. I love dogs, but I am afraid to take a dog of my own because of the rabies. When you have a dog it must be only possible with a badge (registration), so that you can see that they get an injection for rabies and have registered the dog, and not be allowed to walk alone but only with their owner. It must be a duty." - Tony Nicholson wrote in: ”There's another side to this that's not being discussed. As a tourist, I'm very wary of stray dogs and on a recent trip to Bali on both sides of the island [Legian/Nusa Dua] there was so many strays that I did not go walking for fear of them. Whilst I think vaccination is a good thing and is the right way forward at the same time the stray dogs also have to be eliminated as everyone I've spoken to recently hold similar fears to myself about meeting a stray dog on the beach or in an alley or street.” Buying and Selling Names of Tourists Last week's coverage of complaints from hoteliers and villa owners of mysterious calls by time share salespeople and the unethical "buying and selling" of names prompted some interesting letters. [See: The Buying and Selling of Names of Tourists in Bali] - Melinda wrote: ”I believe that my husband and I were victims of this 'scam' during our most recent stay in Bali in June. We are from Australia and had a call from a very persistent Australian guy offering free holidays etc for 'just a few hours of our time.' Luckily we were staying at the Intercontinental, so I reported this to the hotel switch board who screened all further calls for the remainder of our stay." - Russel Boettcher said: ”My wife and I were both contacted by scammers within 24 hours of checking in to our hotel this November.It is obvious that our private details had been sold on to scammers and it's up to the Indonesian Government to get on top of this and other massive corruption issues plaguing the system and destroying the trust of tourists. Indonesian officials must remember the tourist dollar is the life blood of the island." - Alex Lester, claiming to be a former time-share salesman revealed : "You call this news? I have been here for 9 years. When I was new and green on the island, and got a job for Royal Resorts, that's how they got almost all the names. It's from immigration, everyone knows that. Most of the front desk hotel staff are doing it too. 50,000 per name, you 'sell' 5-6 names a day, that's a tidy supplement income for someone who is on a Rp3-4 juta salary." -Steve Bradley from Australia had a creative suggestion: "This scam is not new...it's been going on for years...I have been called a few times at various hotels or bungalows with these offers. Best bet is to act excited about the offer , tell them you need to answer the door and leave the phone for the next 30 minutes....they get the message eventually!" Big Bikes in Bali Our two articles on the developing problem of illegal big bikes operating in Bali [Bali Police Pressured to Bring Big Bikes Under Control] [Bali's Big Bike Saga Continues] also stimulate people to write: - James Dell-Robb wrote to say: ”It is good to know that the problems of these Harley Hooligans is being raised. Their noise shatters the tranquility of the island and their noisy escorted convoys are an insult to the ordinary road users." - Peter Meyer a long-time expatriate in Jakarta had these thoughtful comments: "Your recent article reminded your readers how strange the driver of the retired President Soeharto felt, when he suddenly was no longer escorted by police outriders and had to stop at red traffic lights, just like average citizens." "You also wondered about similar feelings of the, by now retired, Vice President Jusuf Kalla and pointed out that, even though ministers and generals are enjoying the same ‘no traffic rules' privileges, the law, actually limits this kind of special treatment, to the President and his VP." "I am sure, many people who are routinely inconvenienced by police escorts, pushing through rush hour traffic, and having entire road sectors closed for the convenience of certain demanding 'VIP'’s,' are unhappy about this obvious violation of their personal rights, but that respect for the individuals or their positions, may allow them to swallow hard and to accept the situation." "How about though the indignities these same average citizens are suffering, when exactly the same police 'service,' is being extended to hundreds of noisy, leather clad, well above average wealth flaunting, Harley Davidson riders?" ”Special treatment, by the police, who are supposed to protect the rights of their (average) fellow citizens, for such 'in your face' behavior, has to be seriously in violation of the above mentioned laws and is even more of a disgrace, if one begins to wonder how many of these expensive status symbols are on the road, without their owners' regard for import and tax regulations." "As Pak Harto's driver had to learn, the kind of special treatment he was yearning for, ended with the Soeharto area – or did it?" -Colin Anderson, also in Indonesia, wrote to say: "Regarding the high attrition rate amongst tourists riding motorbikes, the problem is that in their home countries most of them do not drive motorcycles - and they come to Bali to get experience on 2 wheels?. The problem lies with the people who rent bikes to the tourists. In any other country you need a special motorcycle license to rent a bike. As usual, it is just a matter of regulation by the government. If a tourist is found to be riding a bike without a motorcycle license, the renter should be held liable." Immigration Lines at Bali's Airport Promises by Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism to reduce to only 15 minutes the time from aircraft to curb at Bali's airport [See: Reducing Immigration Lines at Bali's Airport] inspired the following email: - Leigh Henry in Bali wrote: ”II have waited in line at Bali international airport for over 1 hr...So it will be a new experience to go through customs and into a taxi within 15mins of arrival!" -Nicholas Rety in Canada had this to say: ”More than added computers, the airport needs all booths to be operating when flights arrive. Just 3 or 4 sullen officials cannot accelerate the transit from airplane to taxi. Better still, let us buy visas from Indonesian Consulates abroad before we arrive in Bali." -Sue Winski, who live in Bali, said: "That's great news! Now if they really do follow through, it will be even better. Hope they improve the lines for those of us with visas also!" -Julian Monteiro wrote: "I would like to point out that I have been to Bali about 12 times in the last few years, and it has always taken me at least a half hour in the immigration queue, a few times it has been close to an hour." "With all due respect to the Minister, if he says it takes fifteen minutes every time it is not true.” I like Bali and that is why I keep returning to the place, if there is one thing that can be improved it is the VOA lines. I have been to many other countries both within Asia and outside Asia and I have not had similar experiences with immigration lines." -Susi Johnston, also in Bali, added: ”I go in and out of Bali often, on various airlines at various times of day, and during various seasons of the year. To target 15 minutes plane to curb is ambitious and I salute that. It will be a difficult target to hit, though. I always allow 50 minutes +. Those coming to pick me up are instructed to come 1 hour after arrival time. Sometimes they still have to wait." "Not only is immigration slow (I suspect that a percentage of staff who are supposed to be on duty manning kiosks are not, they have more amusing things to do, perhaps), the other problem is baggage transfer from plane to carousel. There have been times when I did pass immigration quickly, but then had to wait so long for baggage that the time from plane to curb was still about an hour. Shameful, really. Especially on an island where almost every day I read about unemployed people looking for jobs, and where wages are generally lower than in competing destinations." "Um . . . and I have been told by Balinese friends (with no corroboration, mind you), that one must pay a very, very significant sum to get a job at the airport. Pay out of one's own pocket before being given the job, and then hope to make up the shortfall with salary and 'tips' over time." ”This does not sound altogether healthy." "That said, over the past fifteen years, I have been continually impressed by the constant improvements in immigration and other services at the airport. Certainly immigration is "cleaner" and more pleasant now than it ever has been in those fifteen years." "So credit where credit is due: good job so far, still a long way to go, but kudos for progress especially in a climate that makes such progress difficult. . .Onward." -Our report on the 2 year sentence handed down to Kantor Kita executive Esti Edmonds [See: Two Year Jail for Bali Property Swindler] saw "Simon" write to complain: "So there you go. Schappelle gets 20 years for a slab of pot, and this woman gets basically nothing for swindling people out of their life savings. Many of those who lost money were told by bent prosecutors that they were not allowed to lay a complaint, and she, more or less gets a walk, and gets to keep the cash, less what she's used to smooth the way. Bali's justice…utterly broken." "I guess, in the rush to push Bali, this email will never get published and so it carries on to the next scam."
Bali Tourism Has Lost its Bearing
Prof. Dr. Emil Salim Calls on Bali to Stay Loyal to its Roots and Promote Tourism Based on Religion, Culture and Nature.
According to respected Indonesian elder statesman, Prof. Dr. Emil Salim, although Bali has manage to become the icon of Indonesian tourism, it is destined to lose its true bearings as a religious, cultural and nature destination which will result in a decline in the quality of international tourists drawn to the Island. Quoted in BisnisBali and speaking at a workshop on tourism held in Bali on Friday, December 4, 2009, Prof. Dr. Salim warned: "If seen solely from the quantity of tourists coming to Bali in the last few years there has certainly been an increase, but the income derived from each tourist as measured in money spent and length of stay is still far below the corresponding numbers from Malaysia. This is because Bali has lost its character and bearings, otherwise often referred to as 'branding.'" Professor Dr. Salim is a U.S. trained economist who held four separate cabinet portfolios between 1971 and 1993. An advisor to President Yudhoyono, Professor Dr. Salim also advises the World Bank where he is listed an "Eminent Person." In reviewing the current state of Bali tourism, Dr. Salim referred to a popular dish of mixed blanched vegetables served with a peanut sauce, saying: "Tourism, as it is currently developing in Bali, has become 'gado-gado tourism' that calls on a wide assortment of tourist attractions. This is very different from Malaysia with promotes 'Truly Asia', India with its 'Incredible India' and Singapore with its 'Uniquely Singapore.' This is the reason Indonesian tourism is being left behind." Dr. Salim said he hoped Bali's tourism would focus on quality, spending and length of stay rather merely pursuing quantity. He cautioned: "We do not need to pursue tourists on the basis of quantity. Because, quantity without quality will (also) result in a loss as concern for the environment. Make religion, culture and nature as the identity or character of Bali tourism. Bali will obtain quality tourists through staying faithful to the concept of 'Tri Hita Karana.'" Tri Hita Kirana is the central theme of Balinese life which dictates balance be maintained between God, nature and mankind. Also attending the same conference was Indonesia's former Minister of Culture and Tourism, I Gede Ardika, who echoed Dr. Salim's calls for adherence to the Balinese creed of Tri Kita Karana and the need to make religion , culture and nature as the benchmarks in developing the island's tourism. Said Ardhika: "The main asset of Bali tourism is the culture of Bali itself. Because of this, let us all work together to protect and preserve that which draws tourists to Bali."
The Dangers of Accepting Candy from Strangers
Head of Bali's Retail Association Explains Why Many Shops are Compelled to Make Change in Candy.
Those of us cautioned from an early age to never accept candy from strangers, might be shocked and a little dismayed when shopkeepers in Bali make up for a lack of adequate change by adding a handful of wrapped candies when making change at the cash register. One disgruntled foreign visitors half-jokingly threatened a shop keeper that he would contact Bank Indonesia to obtain the current "official" exchange rate between Rp. 1,000 and a popular candy mint. This common complaint and a recent regulation outlawing "candy change" has prompted the Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Retailers – Bali (Aprindo-Bali), Ir. Gede Agus Hardiawan, to say he wholeheartedly supports regulations outlawing "candy change." Hardiawan, more commonly known as "Gede Hardy," is the owner of the prominent Hardy chain of supermarkets in Bali. Gede Hardy told the Bali Post that all his fellow members of APRINDO-Bali dislike the "candy change" phenomenon and the dissatisfaction this practice creates among their customers. However, he went on to explain that, "retailers are not handing out candy instead of change on purpose, but because of the lack of small coins and small denomination bills in circulation." Local banks either have no or little supply of coins and bills with nominal values of Rp. 50, Rp. 100, Rp. 200, Rp. 500 and Rp. 1,000 - leaving retailers with little choice but to cover shortfalls in customer's change with an equivalent value in candy. In the same meeting with the press, Gede Hardy assured Bali consumers that, unlike last year, adequate supplied of imported food and liquor items are on hand to meet peek demand over the holiday period. He also reported that, on the average, Bali retailed have seen their sales increase 10-15% in 2009. His members are projecting retail sales receipts to increase by 20% in 2010 as the buying power of their customer base continues to increase.
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