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Indonesia targets 824 bylaws for amendment, annulment

Publication Date : 24-08-2012

 

Indonesia's Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi said yesterday that his ministry had recommended local administrations to repeal 824 bylaws considered to be flawed and contrary to national laws, and planned to evaluate 1,500 more.

"The ministry has reviewed 13,520 bylaws issued by regional administrations across the country. Of that number, 824 should be amended or even annulled," Fauzi told reporters at the State Palace.

The minister said the central government did not have the authority to directly annul the problematic bylaws. "We have returned them to their respective local administrations so that they can work together with councillors to revise or revoke the bylaws," Fauzi said, adding that the evaluation of a further 1,500 bylaws should be completed by the end of 2013.

Most of the problematic bylaws concerned levies, and have been subject to complaints from business communities. Religious bylaws, which could possibly affect tolerance and pluralism, were also on the list, Fauzi said.

"Regarding levies, we have the 2009 Regional Tax and Levies Law, which acts as a guideline for local leaders when issuing levies. The law sets permissible levels of regional taxes and levies that regional administrations can impose. Every tax and levy has different thresholds, which must not be exceeded by bylaws," the minister said.

Fauzi cited, by way of example, a case in which a region set fuel tax at 12 per cent, exceeding the maximum of 10 per cent as stipulated in the 2009 law.

Implemented in 2001, regional autonomy legislation has been hailed as one of the by-products of Indonesia’s growing reform.

It grants mayors and regents significantly more power over various sectors and provides more room for regional administrations to issue as many bylaws as they think necessary to manage their regions.

But many see regional autonomy as a paradox, given the fact that hundreds of bylaws contravene national laws and even, in some cases, the 1945 Constitution.

According to Home Ministry data, there are 499 regencies and 98 municipalities across Indonesia.

In his Aug. 17 state speech, to commemorate Indonesia's 67th anniversary of independence, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono raised concerns about this issue.

"There are complaints over the fact that problems often come from the regional level, not the central government," Yudhoyono said.

"These aspects have the potential to create uncertainty, high costs to the economy and the loss of opportunities to achieve higher and more qualified growth," Yudhoyono added.

While businesspeople have been at the forefront in protesting bylaws pertaining to taxes and levies, human rights and pluralism activists have opposed religious bylaws, such as Sharia bylaws in Aceh and religious bylaws used in other regions to, for example, regulate the distribution of alcoholic beverages.

The Finance Ministry had previously recommended that the Home Ministry revoke 4,885 bylaws because they contravened national laws and could damage the investment climate.

 

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