Thu, 21 Aug 2008
From: The Jakarta Post
By Aditya Suharmoko, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has expanded its investigation into the corruption-infested Directorate General of Taxation.

A failure by most tax officials in submitting their wealth reports will be used by the KPK to make an initial screening of how the officials manage to attain their sizable wealth, KPK deputy chairman for prevention M. Jassin said Wednesday.

The KPK, according to Jassin, has found 1,118 senior tax officials still failing to submit wealth reports as required by the agency, while 539 others have already complied.

"They should immediately submit the reports to improve transparency and accountability in the directorate," he said.

The Directorate General of Taxation, which is under the auspices of the Finance Ministry, is tasked with securing some 80 percent of this year's total tax revenue, which is set at around Rp 641 trillion (US$79.4 billion).

Overall tax revenue accounts for 70 percent of state revenue.

"The Finance Ministry's bureaucratic reform needs to go on, but there are some weaknesses in retrieving tax. The chance of tax officials to engage in corruption needs to be minimized," Jassin said.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati admitted much still needed to be done to clean the tax directorate of corrupt officials.

"I will be happy if the KPK can arrest corrupt officials as well as taxpayers who try to collude to evade taxes. Perhaps they will be more afraid if the KPK enters," Mulyani said.

Mulyani said the KPK had presented the ministry with recommendations to improve the tax office performance.

"The KPK recommends the tax office have a roadmap for law enforcement and human resource management," Mulyani said.

She said the ministry would involve the KPK in monitoring the quality of the roadmap.

According to the ministry, the KPK has thus far found several weaknesses which may undermine the performance of the tax office.

"Among the recommendations is to improve the behavior of the tax officials who most often do not follow the standard operating procedure," Mulyani said.

She added that personal contact between tax officials and taxpayers needed to be limited to prevent cases such as those involving pay television operator PT First Media.

The West Java Police is currently investigating alleged tax fraud involving the company and some tax officials.

The office's infrastructure, including the database of tax officials and the management system, needs to be reorganized, she added.

The KPK also highlighted procurement in the tax office, calling it inefficient and not crucial to the officials' needs.



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