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Key bills languish as Indonesia House of Representatives' term ends

Publication Date : 25-08-2014


Forty bills, including crucial amendments to the Banking Law, Oil and Gas Law and the criminal justice system, face the prospect of being dropped from deliberation by the Indonesian House of Representatives as lawmakers now only have one month left in office.

The 40 bills, from 66 priority bills included in the 2014 National Legislation Program (Prolegnas), are unlikely to be passed by current lawmakers who wrap up their terms in October.

The lack of a carry-over mechanism, which would allow the new intake of lawmakers to continue deliberating the bills in the 2014-2019 term, prevent them from being passed into law in the near future.

“Around 40 bills are unlikely to be passed,” the House’s Legislation Body (Baleg) chairman, Ignatius Mulyono, said recently.

Some of the crucial bills include amendments to the Criminal Code (KUHP) and the Criminal Law Procedures Code (KUHAP).

The amendments of the KUHP and KUHAP were aimed at reforming the foundation of Indonesia’s legal system, much of it a legacy from Dutch colonial rule.

Previously, a number of lawmakers made a trip to several European countries on what they called a “comparative study” to examine laws on such diverse topics as black magic and cohabitation, which they said they would use as input in their efforts to amend the KUHP.

The House spent an estimated 6.5 billion rupiah (US$667,212) on the trip.

Another crucial bill is the amendment to the 2001 law on oil and gas, which is expected to enhance legal certainty in doing business in the sector after the dissolution of the upstream oil and gas regulator BPMigas last year.

The draft amendment on the Banking Law is also unlikely to be passed, according to Ignatius.

The bill is aimed at restricting the operation of foreign banks, setting a deadline for them to become legal entities in the form of Perseroan Terbatas (PT) and capping the level of foreign ownership.

Analysts have blamed the absence of a carry-over procedure for so many draft bills being left to languish.

“The House has never implemented a carry-over process, which is part of the reason for its poor legislative performance because the absence of such a system automatically leaves the deliberation of all unfinished bills back at square one when a new House is inaugurated,” legal analyst Ronald Rofiandri from the Center of Indonesian Legal and Policies Studies (PSHKI) said on Sunday.

He said the absence of such a mechanism also led to wasteful budgetary spending.

“It will be a waste of time and money if we must start over again with all those bills that are nearly complete,” he said.

The establishment of a carry-over process in the House would also guarantee the fate of the ratification of several international conventions, including the anti-involuntary disappearance bill, whose adoption has been long overdue.

Ronald warned that the changing political landscape could be a key factor in deciding the fate of draft bills being discussed by the House.

He said that other than establishing the carry-over procedure the House also needed to set up clear guidelines on how it would amend crucial laws, including those that protected democracy and human rights as well as corruption eradication efforts.

“It is important to set up such clear legislative guidelines, which endorse democracy, legal reform and human rights,” he said.

Considering that the House only has a short time left to finish its deliberations on the 40 bills, the Baleg is proposing a revision to an internal regulation in order to allow the current House to pass on the burden to the new batch of lawmakers.

“It has been common practice here, from one House’s term to another, to start over from zero the discussions of bills when we failed to achieved the legislative target,” said Ignatius, a Democratic Party lawmaker.

He added that it had been very costly for the House to have discussion of crucial bills interrupted every five years.

He said that the House should no longer adopt a “business-as-usual” approach.

“We can’t go on with the same old routine because we’ve already spent huge amounts of money to fund the discussion of those bills in our Prolegnas.”

“We are expecting the approval of leaders of the House to change the regulation that governs the legislative process. However, we can do nothing other than remove all unresolved bills from the list if we don’t secure that approval,” said Ignatius.


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