Saturday, February 23, 2008

Makanan Sehat vs Makanan Enak



Di tengah isu global warming, climate change, dan sejenisnya, sebuah proyek apartemen yang mempunyai konsep “go green” diluncurkan Januari lalu tahun ini. Tidak hanya itu, tempat peluncurannya pun di sebuah kafe yang menyediakan “healthy food” di bilangan Jakarta Selatan. Aha, strategi yang sangat brilian!

Hanya saja, ketika menikmati hidangan yang tersedia, sorry to say, kok tidak ada yang maknyus. Tampilannya memang menarik, tapi di lidah terasa hambar. Dibilang tidak enak sebenarnya juga tidak, tapi rasanya kurang nendang, gitu loh. “Makanan sehat tidak tidak selalu enak. Sebaliknya, makanan enak tidak beranding lurus dengan kesehatan,” ujar gastronom William Wongso.

Begitulah, rasa kadang-kadang harus dikalahkan kalau ingin hidup lebih sehat. Kesadaran seperti ini agaknya mulai menjadi tren dunia. Di Indonesia yang memang sedikit paradoks. Ketika orang-orang Amerika menghindari burger yang dianggap junk food, kita justru sedang tergila-gila dengan makanan yang satu itu. Bahkan, perusahaan besar di Indonesia yang mefokuskan diri kepada produk-produk life style, baru saja mendapatkan franchise untuk membuka gerai burgernya di sini.

Kasadaran akan hidup sehat memang belum merata di Indonesia. Atau, kalau tahu infonya, tidak semua orang berniat hidup sehat dengan berbagai alasan – misalnya dari segi biaya, hidup sehat ternyata tidak murah. Diet Coke, misalnya, harganya lebih mahal ketimbang kola biasa. Tapi asal tahu di AS volume penjualan Diet Coke sudah mengalahkan yang reguler. Sayur organik, selain tidak gampang mendapatkannya (dan tampilannya tidak kelihatan “segar”, seringkali berulat), harganya pun bisa dua kali lipat.

Apa boleh buat, hidup sehat – dengan mengonsumsi makananan sehat yang tidak digaransi lezat, memang masih eksklusif. Kita juga mafhum kalau restoran yang hadir dengan konsep menu sehat, baik dari pemilihan bahan maupun cara memasaknya, bisa dihitung dengan jari. Tapi apa pun motivasinya, kita harus acungi jempol kepada para pengusaha yang menjadi pionir, mau terjun di bisnis “makanan diet” ini. Di tengah membanjirnya restoran-restoran yang hanya “menguja rasa”, masih ada yang peduli dengan kesehatan. Di tengah serbuan produk-produk makanan ber-MSG, mengandung kadar gula tinggi, mempunyai zat pengawet, masih ada produk yang sehat dan aman dikonsumsi.

Pola hidup dan pola makan kita sudah sudah terlampau biasa mengonsumsi produk-produk yang berbahaya bagi kesehatan. Healthy restaurant ibarat oase di tengah padang belantara makanan sampah, dan healthy food products ibarat “penawar rindu” orang-orang yang mendambakan kesehatan.

Memang, menurut seorang pakar nutrisi sehat, kalau ingin hidup sehat, tidak cukup dengan pemilikan rumah makan tertentu atau pun pemilihan produk-produk yang memenuhi standar kesehatan, tapi juga harus mengetahui olah masak yang sehat pula. "Mengukus, merebus, memanggang, dan membakar adalah metode yang lazim digunakan dalam menu diet atau menu sehat," ujarnya.

Hidup sehat adalah pilihan, termasuk konsekwensinya meninggalkan makanan enak – paling tidak yang selama ini dianggap enak. Siapkah Anda mengganti nasi dengan beras merah, misalnya? Atau mengganti gula dengan madu, minimal dengan gula rendah kalori. Garam pun harus jenis garam diet (nutrisalin), santan diganti susu rendah lemak, minyak sebaiknya canola oil atau bahkan minyak zaitun mengandung antioksidan tinggi. Roti tidak boleh mengandung bahan tambahan seperti aditif, preservatif, apalagi zat kimia, yang biasa terkandung di roti-roti modern saat ini. Dan siap-siaplah meninggalkan ayam goreng yang gurih dan lezat itu, karena yang disarankan dalam hidup sehat adalah ayam bakar atau ayam rebus, itu pun tanpa kulit dan garamnya tidak boleh berlebihan. Huh!

Monday, February 18, 2008

More banks eye premium customers


IT is indeed an outstanding achievement. Within just a relatively short time the UOB Buana Platinum credit card, which was launched last August, has succeeded in netting more than 80,000 customers. 

According to Iwan Notowidigdo, executive vice president/head of unsecured products, Personal Financial Services of UOB Buana, the success is largely due to the good reputation of UOB (United Overseas Bank) Limited. Currently, UOB, the major shareholder of UOB Buana, is actively developing and expanding its market share in the Asia Pacific, including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand and now Indonesia.

For the bank, Indonesia has potential. "The number of rich people here is growing, while although volume wise it is small their purchasing power is very large," said Iwan. That is why among the various credit cards issued by the bank, the platinum card is heavily relied on to generate further business.

Similarly, other banks also target wealthy customers via their platinum credit cards with a credit limit of Rp 50 million. No less than Bank BRI, which is known as the bank for common people, issues platinum credit cards.

The reason why banks are rushing to serve premium clients is because although their number is relatively small they contribute a lot to a bank's business. Banks have turned their attention to these VIP clients by applying various marketing strategies, such as special interest rates, offers of merchandise at discounted prices and personalized finance management. The banks call such services by various names, such as personal, priority or private banking. 

Thus it is understandable why last year BRI, which was established 112 years ago, also launched its priority service, BRI Prioritas. "Through this product we intend to provide our VIP clients, or selected individuals, with utmost convenience in services," said Susilo, head of finance and consumer services at Bank BRI.

Indeed, the number of affluent people or high net worth individuals is on the increase in the country. Reliable research indicates that, along with similar growth in Asia, there will be 785,000 wealthy people in Indonesia by 2015.

Mark Schroeder, an Australian financial consultant, acknowledges that the potential for wealth management in Indonesia is quite huge and therefore related services are booming. "I was surprised to hear that the country has 22 million wealthy people, which is 10 percent of the population. This number indeed has great potential for wealth management products," he said on the sidelines of the International Wealth Management Conference in Jakarta last year.

These high net worth clients demand special services from banks, which are rushing to pamper them. BRI Prioritas offers various convenient banking services that suit the customers' high lifestyle, and all are combined with international premium services. There is also a lounge, called Priority Services Center, located at the BRI I building on Jl. Sudirman, South Jakarta, for customers to avail of.

In short, highly valued customers can enjoy a long list of special services, such as transactions that are almost limitless, financial and investment consultation, purchase of shares, insurance (bancassurance), pension plans and speedy service. All this is just part of wealth management.

Wealth management is not a new concept for banks. It is targeted at wealthy people who do not know how to manage their money or do not know how to make good use of it. Here the banks' financial consultants play a major role in seeing to the further development of wealth both through banking and non-banking channels. Of course, the financial consultants have to be very shrewd in managing clients' money and producing results in order to gain their confidence. The clients are also assured of security and exclusivity. Apart from gaining a fee-based income for the bank, wealth management is intended to create added value for premium clients.

However, not all banks in Indonesia have succeeded in applying wealth management in its fullest term. They have basically provided this service by labeling it personal, private and priority banking, but at most banks it is only a part of general customer service, and not a special division. In any case, wealth management products in Indonesia have become an important trend. This can been seen in the fact that more banks are enthusiastically providing such services and at the same time have increased their sales and revenue. Even non-banking financial institutions have had success with such products. Manulife Financial Corporation, for instance, recorded a sales figure of more than US$11 billion last year, while Citibank predicts a growth of 35 percent in its wealth management products sales per year in the country.

To reach its target Citibank has also studied the application of sharia banking as wealthy individuals who would be interested in this are thought to be numerous. Citibank's vice president of retail banking, Meliana Sutikno, said that Indonesia was among the top 10 countries with a fast growth of high net worth individuals. "Each of these individuals has a wealth of at least $1 million. Our target of clients is about 150,000 each with wealth of between $1 million and US$10 million," she said. (Burhanuddin Abe)

The Jakarta Post, February 21, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Valentine's Day: Time for lovers to get closer


TV actor Anjasmara will celebrate Valentine's Day on Feb. 14 with Dian Nitami, his celebrity wife.

Last year's Valentine's Day was a surprise event for Anjas and Dian, who have four children. When they woke up in the morning, they found small pink heart-shaped pieces of chocolate on their dining table. A short while later, their children jumped out from their hiding places yelling "Happy Valentine's". Indeed, Anjas said, Valentine's Day is not only for men and women in love but also for families, relatives and fellow humans.

And like Anjas and Dian, other celebrities celebrate Valentine's Day in a special way. According to one website, a young celebrity couple now enjoying great popularity, Irwansyah and Acha Septriasa, are also eagerly awaiting Valentine's Day. Irwansyah does not want to celebrate Valentine's Day all alone. And so his girlfriend Acha, who is in Malaysia furthering her education, will return home for the special day.

In addition, Irwan said, the two of them will spend Valentine's Day at a place where they first expressed their love for each other. "She wanted me to spend Valentine's Day in Pangalengan. It was there that we first expressed our love for each other. At the time we were shooting Heart. Well, perhaps I will give her a ring, a flower or a piece of chocolate. This may be commonplace, but we are entering another level in our relationship and should think ahead," he said.

Valentine's Day is the perfect time for young people in love to get closer or for a husband and a wife to reaffirm their love. Valentine's Day is not just a private matter but is also a social event celebrated by many people. Just take a look around the various malls and plazas in town in the leadup to Valentine's Day. Shopping centers are dressed up in Valentine paraphernalia: ribbons, heart-shaped pillows, teddy bears, flowers, etc. with the dominant color being pink.

Valentine's Day, which is celebrated on Feb. 14, is very popular among youngsters, especially in urban areas. It is true that Valentine's Day has its root in Western tradition, but it has found its way onto many distant shores, including Indonesia.

Valentine's Day is considered a special day when people express their love. Even young children join in the fun and send Valentine's Day cards to friends, teachers and relatives. Many people mark the day by eating out at restaurants with Valentine themed menus.

There are two versions of how Valentine's Day came into being. One version says Valentine's Day is in commemoration of Valentine, who defied an order by Emperor Claudius II for soldiers not to marry, believing marriage would distract his soldiers. Valentine defied this order and secretly performed marriages for soldiers, was discovered, imprisoned and sentenced to death. While in prison, he wrote a letter to his sweetheart and signed it "From your Valentine."

Another version has it that Valentine's Day has its origins in the February Lupercalia spring festival, when Romans celebrated the abundance of spring. One of the traditions of this festival was for boys to draw the names of girls, and the name of the girl that a boy drew out would be the girl he would spend the next year with.

This celebration has been widely received. In fact, in the days of yore people celebrated the abundance of nature. Gratitude was expressed to the gods and goddesses for giving happy lives to mortals. However, these values gradually disappeared with the development of Christianity.

In Europe, members of the nobility celebrated Valentine's Day by holding parties and distributing gifts. Even a famous British poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, considered Valentine's Day a day of true love and he symbolized it with doves. This tradition of expressing love and kindness has become a world tradition. In Indonesia, the celebration of Valentine's Day still gives rise to a lot of doubt in the community because this celebration comes from the West. Despite this, retailers use it as an opportune time to boost sales.

Retailers may not hold sales like they do before Christmas and Lebaran, but they usually allot special space for Valentine merchandise. Cafes and restaurants also have special Valentine menus. The retailers' strategy is to lure people to buy their wares, whether nor not they need them. Perhaps, people need a moment of fresh air plus gifts either from other people or bought by themselves to benefit from a sale. Some people see Valentine's Day as a product of consumerism. However, consumerism is strong within our society and is reason enough for retailers to take advantage of our buying impulse. So, are you celebrating Valentine's Day? Or are you one of those who are strongly opposed to the celebration of this Western-style celebration of loving kindness? (Burhanuddin Abe)

The Jakarta Post, February 11, 2008

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Investment worth considering



Do you have a lot of money? Then buy an apartment. Really. Many predict that after housing complexes, the apartment sub-sector has very high prospects."Interest rates are going down. If I don't take the chance now, when then? Obviously, there is a big opportunity for big gains now," said a professional who had just purchased a two bedroom apartment in Permata Hijau, Jakarta.

It is true that there are predictions of a huge number of apartments entering the market this year. Several developers are offering unique and attractive products in order to compete in this increasingly competitive market. Their services include making available facilities that are linked to other property products, therefore leading to the emergence of what is referred to as mixed-use properties, to putting up environmentally friendly apartment towers.

According to property consultant PT Property Advisory Indonesia (Provis), condominium projects that were completed in the fourth quarter of 2007 are Capital Residence and Pacific Place in the SCBD, The 18th Rasuna in Kuningan and Tower C of Mediterania Marina in Ancaol. The total supply of strata title condominiums in Jakarta in the last quarter of 2007 stood at 58,553 units. In addition, five other condominium projects have been launched, namely Condo House and The Premiere as part of the construction of Thamrin Residences in the Thamrin area, Lavender Tower of Royal Mediteranea Garden in Tanjung Duren, Tower B of Permata Hijau Residences in Permata Hijau and Kebagusan City in Kebagusan. These five projects will see an additional 28,614 condominiums on the market in coming years.

Jakarta has witnessed an extraordinary increase in the number of apartments. According to some property analysts, now is the right time to buy an apartment. Logically, when interest rates abroad drop, many people withdraw funds deposited offshore. When interest rates at home go down, investors eye apartments as an attractive investment option.

Whether an apartment is bought as a home or as an investment it is still worth living in given that the roads are become increasingly congested and commuting into the city from the suburbs usually takes a long time. "There is a trend among people living in landed houses in the suburbs to migrate downtown and live in apartments. They want to be close to their places of work or business," said Albert Luhur, marketing manager of The Summit in Kelapa Gading.

Research conducted by Provis shows that apartments in the CBD areas in Jakarta are generally in the price range of Rp 12.9 million/m2, while upper- to middle-class apartments located outside a CBD area are about Rp 12 million/m2 in price. Interestingly, although the market price of a house is more or less the same as that of an apartment, for long-term investment, rent on an apartment is higher than that on a house. The highest rate of return on a house is 3.5 percent while that on an apartment may be more than 10 percent, which is still less that the interest rate on a time deposit.

Indeed, there is no general formula for investment in apartments. One individual may differ from another in this respect. Therefore consideration must be made case by case. There are several tips, however, that can be used as reference when investing in an apartment.

First, just like choosing other forms of property, you must consider the location. Many people look for a location close to a business center. Likewise, an apartment should enjoy easy access to other facilities. Many expatriates stay in apartments. If you plan to rent out your apartment, study which areas are popular among expatriates. Expatriates from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Japan are usually willing to spend more on rent than those from Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Second, look at the facilities available, in terms of either type or size. Facilities that should be given more attention include sports facilities, restaurants and cafes, swimming pool, parking area, garden, lifts and generators for emergency purposes. Remember that it is not enough that these facilities are available -- also take into account their size, area and quantity.

Third, the reputation of the developer. A noted developer with a good construction track record has more credibility. Likewise, the experience of a developer is also reflected in the quality of the apartment, particularly with respect to rooms like the bathroom, toilet and kitchen.

Fourth, the area of the apartment itself. Tenants often prefer two- to three-bedroom apartments for a family. So, reconsider any intention to buy a one-bedroom apartment or a studio apartment.

Fifth, an apartment's property management is responsible for the maintenance of facilities for occupants and their guests. The upkeep and durability of equipment used by tenants, cleanliness, security and comfort on the premises will be determined by the quality of the property's management. Keep in mind that the reputation of the property management is also important and should be looked into. Make sure the property is managed by a reputable company, such as Mercure, Aston, etc.

Sixth, the amount of money needed to be invested in the property. Make sure that you have enough money not only to purchase the apartment but also to buy everything for the interior that suits your taste. Find out what the developer supplies, such as kitchen set, stove or air-conditioning so that you know how much you will have to spend overall.

Last but not least, make sure that the developer has the necessary documents for the construction of the apartment building, for example a permit stating that an apartment building may be erected in a particular location, a block plan, a preliminary permit, a building permit, a land certificate as well as papers proving the developer has financing for the construction. Make sure that you buy only an apartment with a clear land status as otherwise you could end up with problems further down the line. (Burhanuddin Abe)

The Jakarta Post, February 05, 2008

Developers enjoy upbeat market




Optimistic is an appropriate term to describe Indonesia's property market in 2008, with economic indicators showing positive signs and an absence of political and social turmoil. GDP in 2007 reached 6.3 percent, which is another excellent sign for the market. This was the country's best growth since the 1997 financial crisis. However, inflation was 6.56 percent, slightly lower than in 2006, which was 6.6 percent. Interest rates also keep going down along with the interest reduction for Bank Indonesia promissory notes to 8 percent, from 13.37 in December. This is expected to prompt more people to invest in property rather that bank instruments.

The relatively secure political and social condition has boosted the investment world in the country. In December 2007, approved foreign direct investment reached US$37.595 million, a sharp increase of 141 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, domestic investment also saw an increase of 12.2 percent amounting to Rp 182.561 billion.

How about the property world? Generally speaking, demand is still high, especially for office and retail space. Last year's demand for office space was indeed the highest since the financial crisis. It seems that this sector will keep enjoying brisk business due to the country's strong economic foundations. The healthy economic conditions will also boost the construction of office buildings, retail space, condominiums and apartments as can be seen from the numerous construction sites in Jakarta. However, the mushrooming of apartment buildings were unfortunately not matched by demand in 2007. The following is an analysis.

Presales increased slightly in the fourth quarter of 2007. However, they dropped during the Lebaran holidays in October and at Christmas and New Year. Buyers were presumably away over these holidays. Low-cost condominiums enjoyed better sales as buyers and investors were attracted by the prices due to government subsidies (Rusunami). In 2008, the demand for low-cost condos will remain high. There was an increase of 1.91 percent in presales, totaling 68.4 percent, in the fourth quarter of 2007 compared to the previous quarter. Cumulatively the year 2007 recorded a high sales figure of 94.4 percent, leaving only 3,260 apartments unsold.

The occupancy rate of apartments in 2007 was not high at 65.5 percent. However, low-cost apartments enjoyed a higher occupancy rate. This indicates that the buyers bought their properties to live in. From the supply side in the fourth quarter of 2007, the following apartments were completed: Capital Residence and Pacific Place in the Sudirman Central Business District, The 18th Rasuna in Kuningan and Mediterania Marina Tower C in Ancol. Total strata title apartments in the same period was 58,553.

In the same period five condo projects were launched: Condo House and The Premiere as part of Thamrin Residences, Permata Hijau Residences (Tower B), Royal Mediterania Garden Lavender Tower in Tanjung Duren and Kebagusan City in Kebagusan. The five projects will add 28,614 apartments to available supply. In the past few years prices in prime residential locations have increased more than in the Central Business District, where the price increase was only 0.63 percent, that is Rp 12.9 million per square meter, while prime residential area prices went up 4.8 percent to Rp 12 million per square meter.

Apartment rentals are not as brisk as apartment sales. The huge supply has made the apartment business targeted at expatriates quite slow. By the end of 2007, the occupancy of apartments went down 3.5 percent, meaning total occupancy was only 71.5 percent, down from 74.8 percent in 2006. Occupancy of apartments for lease also went down sharply as a huge number were available. In the same period, another 1,770 apartments became available while demand was only for 386. Serviced apartments have also experience a similar fate, although expatriate demand has been more or less stable. However, the supply of serviced apartments is much higher than demand, reaching only 5.1 percent in 2007, indicating that tenants were simply moving from one apartment to another.

By the end of 2007, the occupancy rate for condominiums for lease was 70.95 percent, serviced apartments 69.77 percent and leased apartments 78.27 percent. An additional 1,933 leased apartments came on the market, 92 percent of which were condominiums for lease, an increase of 24.6 percent from 2006, which exceeded the demand of only 19.1 percent. In the next two years another 1,735 serviced apartments will come on line, not to mention condominiums for lease.

However, although there is an imbalance between supply and demand noted operators are handling the prices well and there has been an increase of 6.7 percent in the U.S. dollar tariff in the past 12 months. Condominiums for lease will not enjoy the same condition due to the huge supply. Prices in U.S. dollars have not gone up, while the rupiah price has only increased 3 percent. However, due to inflation there has been some increase dollar-wise, 2.7 percent, and 7.2 percent in the rupiah bracket. The general prediction is that there will be stiff competition in the future due to the big supply of apartments.

We will also see a significant increase in the supply of middle and low segment condominiums. Mixed-use condominiums will also emerge more in the Central Business District. On the outskirts, meanwhile, more low-cost apartments will be built. With worsening traffic conditions and the limited supply of land in the city, expatriates, who are the main target for serviced apartments, will in one way or another occupy most of the available apartments here in increasing numbers. (Arief Rahardjo, associate partner, strategic consulting, PT Property Advisory Indonesia - Provis).

The Jakarta Post, February 05, 2008