Tue, 19 Feb 2008
From: The Jakarta Post
By Agustina Wayansari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) announced Monday its opposition to the Supreme Audit Agency's (BPK) demand for greater authority in probing the state's tax revenue.

The BPK is currently in court for a judicial review on the law on general rules and procedures of taxation.

The agency is particularly adamant about scrapping an article in the law that requires the agency to obtain written permission from the finance minister to obtain detailed information on the government's tax revenue.

Kadin deputy chairman for public policy, taxation and customs Hariyadi B. Sukamdani said a greater BPK authority would mean an infringement on taxpayers' right to keep their information confidential, as protected by law.

"We cannot accept the agency's request to access all data on state tax revenues that include taxpayer records. The BPK will not be able to guarantee the taxpayers' right to secrecy.

"Such authority would have a negative impact on us, business players, as we are also taxpayers," Hariyadi said.

Earlier, the BPK chairman told a panel of judges in the first hearing session on Feb. 5 that greater authority was necessary to boost the agency's capacity in probing corruption cases.

He said according to the law on the inspection of state financial accountability and management, the agency was allowed full access to all data, information and documents necessary for inspecting the financial affairs of the government.

Hariyadi said a representative from Kadin would stand as witness in the judicial court session Tuesday, presenting a formal argument to counter the BPK's request.

He further said the existing laws and regulations on taxes already accommodated the BPK's needs and that it was normal to require formal approval from the minister for certain information.

Kadin tax committee chairman Prijohandojo Kristanto said the BPK's request would also discourage potential investors who remain unsure of the current regulation.

"Our investment sector hasn't recovered from the economic crisis a decade ago and this new regulation will hamper potential investors who in fact are still uncertain of the current regulation," said Prijohandojo.

Bambang Soesatyo, who chairs the fiscal and monetary committee at Kadin, said the access to confidential information was also not good for business as competitors could also enjoy access to any information made public by the BPK.

"We're not against transparency or clean governance, but making private information public will give our competitors free access to our confidential data to learn about the company's business strategy", he said.



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